While the overall qualities of warmth and heat have long been associated with comfort and relaxation, heat therapy goes a step further and can provide both pain relief and healing benefits for many types of lower back pain.
In addition, heat therapy for lower back pain — in the form of heating pads, heat wraps — is both inexpensive and easy to do.
This article provides an examination of how heat therapy interacts with the body to alleviate pain as well as options on how to apply heat therapy to help alleviate many types of lower back pain.
How heat therapy works
Many episodes of lower back pain result from strains and over-exertions, creating tension in the muscles and soft tissues around the lower spine. As a result, this restricts proper circulation and sends pain signals to the brain.
Muscle spasm in the lower back can create sensations that may range from mild discomfort to excruciating lower back pain. Heat therapy can help relieve pain from the muscle spasm and related tightness in the lower back.
Heat therapy application can help provide lower back pain relief through several mechanisms:
- Heat therapy dilates the blood vessels of the muscles surrounding the lumbar spine. This process increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, helping to heal the damaged tissue.
- Heat stimulates the sensory receptors in the skin, which means that applying heat to the lower back will decrease transmissions of pain signals to the brain and partially relieve the discomfort.
- Heat application facilitates stretching the soft tissues around the spine, including muscles, connective tissue, and adhesion. Consequently, with heat therapy, there will be a decrease in stiffness as well as injury, with an increase in flexibility and overall feeling of comfort. Flexibility is very important for a healthy back.
There are several other significant benefits of heat therapy that make it so appealing. Compared to most therapies, heat therapy is quite inexpensive (and in many circumstances it’s free — such as taking a hot bath). Heat therapy is also easy to do — it can be done at home while relaxing, and portable heat wraps also make it an option while at work or in the car.
For many people, heat therapy works best when combined with other treatment modalities, such as physical therapy and exercise. Relative to most medical treatments available, heat therapy is appealing to many people because it is a non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical form of lower back pain relief.
How to Apply Heat Therapy
The most effective heat therapy products are the ones that can maintain their heat at the proper temperature. “Warm” is the proper temperature. Patients should not have their heat source be hot to the point of burning the skin. The desired effect is for the heat to penetrate down into the muscles. Simply increasing the temperature of the skin will do little to decrease discomfort.
In many instances, the longer the heat is applied, the better. The duration that one needs to apply the heat, though, is based on the type of and/or magnitude of the injury. For very minor back tension, short amounts of heat therapy may be sufficient (such as 15 to 20 minutes). For more intense injuries, longer sessions of heat may be more beneficial (such as 30 minutes to 2 hours, or more).
Two options of heat therapy include moist heat and dry heat.
- Dry heat, such as electric heating pads and saunas, draw out moisture from the body and may leave the skin dehydrated. However, some people feel that dry heat is the easiest to apply and feels the best.
- Moist heat, such as hot baths, steamed towels or moist heating packs can aid in the heat’s penetration into the muscles, and some people feel that moist heat provides better pain relief.
A specific type of heat therapy may feel better for one person than for another, and it may require some experimentation to figure out which one works best. There are many different manners for heat to be applied to the lower back. However, I like to recommend the one, which I had experienced and known. It is Nature Creation — The natural Hot & Cold Herbal Therapy products.
Nature Creation (www.naturecreation.com) is the ultimate natural hot & cold pain therapy products. They hava variety of designs to fit comfortably to the shape of your body and maintaina the heat or cold effects through out the treatments. The effects of the healing is almost instantenous. Within 10–15 minutes upon the treatments, you will feel the absolute relieve from your pain.
You may visit its company website at www.naturecreation.com or call their friendly customer service at 1–888-250‑2010 ext., 101.