With so many advancements in the treatment of lower back pain, heat therapy is often overlooked. But heat therapy can provide meaningful relief in a short amount of time—and best of all it is easy to do.
Here is how to use heat therapy to help you find relief from your lower back pain:
How much heat do I need?
Before we talk about how to apply heat therapy to your lower back, let’s quickly look at the best temperature for heat therapy. Ideally, any type of heat therapy should be at a warm temperature—as too high of a heat can burn your skin. In contrast, a warm temperature will allow the heat to penetrate down into your lower back muscles without damaging your skin.
How to apply heat therapy
As a general rule, the more severe your lower back injury the longer your heat therapy session needs to last. For example, if you have minor back tension you may only need a 15 to 20 minute session. But if your injury is serious, you may need 30 minutes to 2 hours.
There are numerous options for the application of this warmth, including dry heat like an electric heating pad. Or if you prefer moist heat, you can try a steamed towel.
Additionally, you can try any of the following options:
- Hot water bottle
- Heated gel pack
- Heat wrap
- Warm bath
No one heat therapy option is necessarily better than another, so it is best to experiment with moist and dry options until you find the one that works best for you.
As a final note, make sure you place a towel or other form of insulation between yourself and the source of heat to prevent burns.
When to avoid heat therapy
It is best to avoid heat therapy if your back is swollen or bruised. Instead, you should typically apply ice to the injured area.
If you have heart disease or hypertension, it’s best to speak with your doctor before starting heat therapy. Also, people with dermatitis, diabetes, or an open wound should forgo applying heat to their lower backs.
Compared to other treatment options, heat therapy may seem too simple. But give it a try and you may find significant relief from your lower back pain.