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Back strain is a common injury among adults. It often happens from incorrectly lifting a heavy object, twisting suddenly during athletic activity, or keeping your neck or back in one position for too long. There are several approaches to back strain treatment ranging from heat or cold therapy, to pain medication, and to surgery in extreme cases.

If you have a minor back strain and intend to treat the problem at home, you might be wondering whether you should use heat or cold to help accelerate the healing process.

Heat or Cold for Back Strain Treatment?

A muscle strain occurs when the muscle fibers are torn as a result of overstretching. Your body responds with inflammation, a process that is meant to protect the damaged tissue and commence healing. Although the inflammatory response is beneficial, and even necessary, too much of it can actually hinder healing. This is one reason that cold therapy is traditionally used to help control inflammation.

Some of the benefits of cold therapy for back strain treatment include:

  • Reduction of pain by slowing the activity of nerve endings
  • Less swelling
  • Less production of excess fluid
  • Controlled inflammation
  • Fewer muscle spasms

Many people also like to use heat for back pain, but it is more effective for chronic back pain than it is for an acute strain.

Some of the benefits of heat therapy for back strain treatment include:

  • Reduction of pain because the muscles are allowed to relax
  • Fewer muscle spasms
  • Increased blood flow and removal of lactic acid from sore muscles

Although heat does help temporarily relieve chronic back pain, if you have an acute muscle strain in your back, cold therapy is a better option because it will help reduce inflammation and accelerate the healing process. It is also best to apply therapeutic cold quickly after the onset of the injury because the faster you can slow the inflammatory response, the more quickly the damaged muscles will heal.

If you are seeking back strain treatment, talk to your doctor about the Game Ready cold and compression therapy system. Specialized wraps are available for virtually every body part to provide consistent cold therapy and active compression to pump fresh fluid to the damaged tissues. You can rent a unit for treatment in the comfort of your own home, without having to worry about messy cold packs that are less effective. Find a provider near you to get your treatment started.