Should I Use Ice or Heat for Back Pain?

Ice or Heat for Back Pain

Everyday in the office I hear patients ask "should I use ice or heat for back pain?" It is confusing, because the ice and heat work in different ways and are best when used at different times. 

When You Should Use Ice for Pain

In general, ice is best in the first 48 hours after a new pain, or an old pain that has now become worse. It is best done three times per day for twenty to thirty minutes. The ice should not touch the skin, but should have a cloth between the ice and the skin. 

An ice massage can sometimes even be more helpful. A good way to perform this is to freeze a half full glass of water in a Styrofoam cup in the freezer, then remove the top half of the cup and use the block of ice to rub the sore area using a circular motion. 

In patients who have long standing pain that has recently become worse, I tell patients to use the ice to prevent pain chemicals from being released into the muscles and making the muscles more sore. 

The Best Use for Heat to Ease Pain

Heat works best for achy, longstanding pain--the kind of pain that is usually made better with activity. Heat can be done by microwaving a wet cloth/towel, using hot water in a shower, or a water bottle. Heating pads can also be used as well as warm gel packs. To avoid burns, place a cloth/towel between the heat source and the skin.

Many pains are a combination of sharp and stiff, so ice first for twenty minutes followed by ten minutes of heat.

Neither of these treatments should be used if the patient has dermatitis, an open sore, or doesn’t understand the risks of burn or frost bite

These treatments are inexpensive, can be done at home, and are available almost any time the patient needs relief.

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  • "Amazing doctor and staff!!! He and Joe truly care about their patients and has awesome personalities! You go in pain and leave smiling confident that your pain will soon be gone!"

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  • "Have seen Dr Callewart and Joe for about 20 years! They are ALWAYS helpful and listen to any concerns I have! Could not be happier with Dr. Callewart and Joe Nagy and all of the staff I see. They are a great staff and of course Dr and P.A. He took over after 4 surgeries by someone else and have done everything possible to help correct the problems in my neck! I would recommed this Doctor to anyone having spinal problems!"

    Dianna Montgomery

  • "Dr Callewart is such a great well rounded dr. Love his staff .. even dr joe... the new chairs are not my favorite to sit in with my back issues and its alwayyssss hot. But i wouldn't trade him for any other dr.."

    Kelly Sullivan
  • "I love the professional environment and services they provide. My Dr. Callewart is very warm and friendly. Sometimes I forget that I'm talking to my Dr. because he makes me feel like we're old high school buddies! Lol! Couldn't have asked for a more Professional Dr. than Dr. Callewart who knows what he's doing! Thank you for all you do!"

    Rico Da Don
  • "Dr Calawart and Joe are the very best back doctors in the Dallas area. They are so kind and caring and the staff is awesome. When you have a problem they get you an appointment right away no waiting for days or weeks Love this group."

    Linda Jennings
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    Rick Sims
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    Fida Fira
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    Gloria Shepherd
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    Sheryl Miller

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