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Question regarding ICE/HEAT

LoLLo Posts: 694
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:24 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
So... I'm not quite sure which I should use or not use, and for how long.

I have been using a heating pad because my muscles have been really tense and it helps a LOT.

BUT, I know I do wayyy too much & I'm trying so hard to stop myself, but I am pretty sure my doing too much too soon has created inflammation around my fusion area, because I've started to feel slight twinges of Sciatica again. I know heat doesn't help with swelling, so today I put a frozen bag of peas wrapped in a towel (what I used to use way before surgery, while I was going to physical therapy. Haha) It's still there now, been about 30 minutes.

So my question is really is that logical? That the twinges of Sciatica are from inflammation, which are from doing too much BLT when I'm not supposed to do ANY? And also, how long should I leave the ice, I mean... peas, on for? And how often?

Please don't lecture me about doing too much and not following my doctor's orders and taking this seriously. I do take this seriously.... But I also am a single parent and don't have anyone to help when my boyfriend is working all day/weekend. I minimize what I do, but things HAVE to be done. We've been working on systems in which I won't have to do much at all, and he can take over, but it's a transitional process, and we're working on it. So I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't go in that direction, because despite my age, I'm not dumb, nor do I think I know better than my surgeon does. You have to do what you have to do. Just need suggestions on the above asked... That's it. I appreciate it a lot!

Thanks a ton :)


  • Lo,
    I beleive you will do what you feel you can but be wary of pacing yourself. (says me who is rubbish as well at pacing)

    I understand the icing needs to be a quick 30 seconds on / off alternate with heat to FLUSH the blood and get oxygen pumping to the injured part.
    I "think" that leaving it there for too long may cause tissue damage. The same has been said to me about heat - can increase inflammation, which makes sense but since no 2 practitioners can agree, I do what is comfortable.

    I don't Ice - it hurts and gives me spasm. I like heat very much...probally too much. image:)" alt=">:)" height="20" />

    Take it easy
  • Hi Lo,
    My PT says ice for inflammation at 10 minutes per hour and don't use heat. But in the PT office they use heat on my neck to loosen the muscles before they work with me. So I guess heat to loosen muscles and ice for inflammation (but in moderation).
    And of course the disclaimer..........I am not a medical person and this is just my opinion from personal experiance.

    Hang in there, we all know about doing too much and how hard it is not to. Best wishes for a quick recovery

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  • My PT says ice for 10-15 min for inflamation or nerve pain and use heat for muscle pain. I think we can all say we have been there on the done too much page. Try to give yourself time to let it calm down.
  • As you know baby bear I use both.
    I ice everyday on the incision area. Heat when I'm achy.
    Remember each week your body is going to give you new twinges and sorts of odd pain. It's a given. Comes with the territory.

    Plus when we are sleeping sometimes we don't know how we are sleeping right?? Like last night I had no idea the dog was in bed. Hub did. Thats probably why I have a very sore neck today and also my whole core area felt like a board that wanted to be chopped in half }:) }:)

    Some will say 10 min on and off for both. I do 15 min on and off.

    Keep up with your walking hunny the best you can. If you cannot get outside which is impossible sometimes just put your mp3 on and walk around the house or rest and take more pics that you loveeeeeeeee to do!!! Coming to steal some hodies I am FREEZINGGGGGG =))

    Love ya hunny
    Mamma bear O:) O:) O:) O:) O:) O:)
  • Hey there Lo, yep sounds like inflammation. Our backs let us know for sure when we have overdone it. I agree with the rest for ice 10-15 minutes. I was told to alternate both. I tend to leave them on longer cause I forget to watch the clock. I usually take the ice off when it starts to hurt, LOL 8} Now heat, obviously there is no end to that one as far as I am concerned. It comes off when the heating pad shuts off, but then I turn it back on again :) I have had many sciatic flare ups through this process and so far they always settle down with rest and good behavior #:S Hope you feel better soon, >:D< Cali-Sue
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  • I've always heard 20 min. on, 20 min. off for ice. If you keep it on any longer, you could cause tissue damage. I can only bear to keep it on for about 10-15. Hope you get some relief. Take it easy Lo...please don't overdo so much! I know it's difficult with a child and not much help, but do ONLY what HAS to be done. It's really not worth it, huh?

    I admire your courage and your spirit, girl!
  • im a huge fan of the heating pad, cant really handle the ice but do for about 1-2 mins at a time, it just seems to me that the ice tends to tense my back up more vs heat relaxing it, i leave the heat on for like an hour at a time but on the low setting so that my back doesnt burn up. But i hope you find what suits your needs best. try laying on the floor...lol kidding
  • just wanted to say off topic that i applaude you being a single mother (all single mothers) i know how difficult it can be I was a single father of my daughter for 6 years. so i definetely know how life doesnt stop because your sick or hurt. Keep on truckin and trust me it all pays off in the end!
  • My physical therapist always said 10 minutes of either or ice and that's the max I have used at almost every appointment.
  • Hi!
    I am glad you asked this question as I am always confused about when to use which as well. I spasm up with ice; yet I feel the inflammation when I've done too much. I try to take it easy for a day or two and use heat after that cuz I'm afraid of the ice.
    Now, as for that lecture, don't you worry about it. We will all tell you to try to rotate sitting, standing, and laying so you don't do any one of them too often. But we all know that life doesn't stop for us. Do the best you can to stress to your family how important this year is for you to heal and be better off for all of them in the long run. Even with that, we understand the demands you face and applaude you for loving your family so much. Take advantage of any other moms who offer to help. I was too proud to accept the help but once I did, I realized that they felt good about helping and we became much better friends because of it. If you need to vent, feel free to pm me anytime.
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