Backpain Overview

Heat Therapy For Low Back Pain

It is a known fact that the qualities of warmth and heat have been associated with comfort and relaxation but heat therapy goes a step further by providing both pain relief and healing benefits for many types of low back pain. Also, heat therapy in its various forms is inexpensive and very easy to use. Heat therapy is applied when the back pain is caused due to strain and over-exertions creating tension in the muscles and soft tissues around the lower spine.

Heat therapy helps in relieving back pain through several mechanisms:
Heat therapy dilates the blood vessels of the muscles surrounding the lumbar spine thus increasing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and helping in healing the damaged tissue.
Heat stimulates the sensory receptors in the skin thus applying heat to the skin will decrease transmissions of pain signals to the brain and partially relieving the discomfort.

Heat therapy facilitates the stretching of soft tissues around the spine including muscles, connective tissues and adhesions. Heat therapy results in decreased stiffness as well as injury with an increase in flexibility and overall feeling of comfort.

Short amounts of heat therapy is applied for minor back pain while longer sessions of heat are required for more intense injuries. There are two available options of heat therapy:

Dry heat:
Dry heat like electric heating pads and saunas draw out moisture from the body leaving the skin dehydrated.

Moist heat: Moist heat like hot baths, or moist heating pads can aid in the heat's penetration in to the muscles.

Specific types of heat therapy suit different patients so only experimenting with them would let you settle down for the best one. Also, there are many different manners for heat to be applied to the lower back.

These include:
Hot water bottle: It stays warm for 20 to 30 minutes.

Heated gel packs: They may be microwaved and they stay warm for about 30 minutes. Certain gel packs provide moist heat also.

Electric heating pad: It maintains a constant level of heat as long as it is plugged in.

Heat wraps: Heat wraps are worn around the lower back and waist against the skin under clothing thereby providing convenience and several hours of low level of heat application.

Hot bath, hot tub, sauna, steam bath: They stimulate general feelings of comfort and relaxation which help in reducing muscle spasm and pain.

Therefore heat therapy is an easy and inexpensive option which provides relief from many types of lower back pain. It can be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies.