Both heat and ice can be used to relieve back pain, pulled muscles and more, but the question of which is the best option has always been an issue. Therapeutic icing and heating cryotherapy and thermotherapy are known to rational, cheap self-treatment options with little or no risks. It is however important that you understand the mechanism behind these two options, before concluding on which is best for you.
Ice is mainly for injuries (damaged superficial tissues that are inflamed, red, hot, or swollen) while heat, on the other hand, is for muscles, chronic pain and stress. There is a greater evidence that heat will reduce back pain and little or no evidence that ice will. Either ways, the two are still effective in relieving back pain, albeit different methods are used.
If you are not sure of which option to go for, use ice first when an injury first occurs. After about 2 to 3 days, when the swelling must have gone down, you can go on to stretch the muscle with exercises.
You can also decide to use heat first, depending on your preference but it is safer to use ice, to get red blood cells to the injured area faster, in order to promote healing.
You should also understand that using either ice or heat is not the solution to chronic pain relief, but the paths to solution. These two options only help to ease your ability to perform muscle stretching exercises that will relief you eventually.
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