Sometimes it's the simple, time-tested treatments that offer the most effective relief from lower back pain.
One such treatment is heat therapy; and below we discuss both how heat therapy can relieve your lower back pain and how to apply it:
How heat therapy relieves lower back pain
In as little as 15 to 20 minutes, you may experience the following benefits from heat therapy:
- Stimulation of blood flow. Heat therapy applied to your lower back dilates the blood vessels in the area. This in turn spurs the flow of healing oxygen and nutrients to the area.
- Stimulation of sensory receptors. Heat therapy stimulates the sensory receptors in your skin, which inhibits the transmission of pain signals to your brain.
- Stretching of soft tissues. Heat therapy helps to stretch the soft tissues in your lower back, which can decrease your stiffness and relieve your pain.
Of course, no single treatment works for everyone. But even if heat therapy provides only a little relief from your lower back pain, it is worth your time and effort.
How to apply heat therapy
When it comes to applying heat therapy, there is nearly no end to your options. For example, you can use a hot water bottle, hot gel pack, or an electric heating pad.
Once you have settled on a heat therapy option, you can follow these guidelines for application:
- Place a cloth or towel between yourself and the heat source to prevent burns
- The desired temperature for heat therapy is warm, not hot
- The more severe your injury, the longer you likely need to apply heat therapy
As a bonus tip, disposable heat wraps are a simple and concealable heat therapy option. These wraps deliver low-level heat over several hours, and are great for the office or for falling asleep at night.
When to avoid heat therapy
Heat therapy is generally considered a very safe option for lower back pain relief. However, you should avoid heat therapy if you suffer from any of the following:
- Open wounds
- Deep vein thrombosis
If heat therapy fails to provide you with sufficient pain relief, you can experiment with alternating between heat and cold therapy. But if your pain continues to persist, make sure to schedule an appointment with your doctor; as this may be a sign of a serious underlying problem.