One of the most common things we do when we suffer from a back or neck injury is to either go grab an Ice pack or run to the heating pad. When asking patients during an evaluation if they have done anything for the pain generally the answer is that one or both have been tried. What I find is that most people are never really sure which one is correct and are often told conflicting views. That’s because it really depends on the type of injury for the correct modality. So it is really rather hard to give an opinion on which is better for individual specific injuries I’ll give some general insight on which to use for certain types of injuries.
Ice will generally be what I recommend for a patient that has come into the office with an injury. If you had a fall or were in an accident, inflammation can be one of the problems, so icing for 20 mins at a time can help to contain the inflammation. If you feel like you have pinched a nerve I would again generally recommend ice over heat. When a nerve is pinched it cause a host of other reactions from surrounding tissue. Ice can calm down the activity.
Heat is recommended for more chronic issues such arthritic pains or daily pain. Heat can help bring more circulation to an area to help loosen muscle that are always tight due to a degenerative condition.
Here is a good quick reference guide to follow. Remember, If the pain is new or it is a re-aggravation of an old injury I generally want you to ice first. If you are not sure which is best for you you can always contact us for more information.