My chronic back pain seems to respond better to an old-fashioned heating pad. Do you have any suggestions on using an electric heating pad for best results?
I have a tired old back that has bothered me for many years and bothers me quite often. I have lower back pain most of the time, so I'm always looking for ways to help myself without using prescription or over-the-counter medications. I worry that I would have to take prescription or non-prescription drugs so often that I would become addicted or harm my body with complications and side effects. So I stay away from this crap and try to stay out of trouble while getting relief with safe and easy home remedies and back stretches that seem to help.
After lots of experimentation, I've learned that my lower back doesn't respond well to acold packor an ice pack. I have applied cold to my back several times during episodes of back pain and have not experienced the pain relief that I get from applying heat. I know that after using the cold, the back pain got worse or at least didn't get better. But through trial and error, I've found great relief using an old-fashioned dry heating pad. I read on this site that you encourage the use of ice or cold applications for most issues but it doesn't seem to work for me, dry heat does.
Any suggestions for someone like me who doesn't seem to be reacting like everyone else? Any ideas and help are appreciated.
You may be surprised to learn that your bad reaction to ice or cold isn't that unusual. Certainly more people respond well to cold packs than to heat in any form. But still, there are people like you who generally do better in the heat. For this reason, at various points on Dr. Lumbago suggests that you experiment with all of my suggestions to see what works best for each individual. I am not presenting laws set in stone, but ideas that you are free to experiment with to create your own procedures that work best for you.
Here are some thoughts that come to mind when using your heating pad for your chronic back problem:
1. While you may have said that cold doesn't give you much relief and you might actually feel worse afterwards, here's another cold option to experiment with that might give you the best answer of all. The next time you want to get pain relief with your usual heat pack method, try alternating hot and cold packs on your back to the area of greatest discomfort. If you have found that you do well with an electric heating pad, continue to use it for the heating portion of your home care routine. You'll probably want to try a few different sources of cold, like a sealed gel pack that you keep in the freezer, or a ziplock bag filled with crushed ice and some water, or whatever else you have available that will act as foil to the cold, heat you apply The most important thing in your case is that you start heat treatment and finish your heat treatment because you are fine with the heat. In this way, three cycles (hot-cold-hot) or five cycles (hot-cold-hot-cold-hot) or seven cycles (hot-cold-hot-cold-hot-cold-hot) can be performed, each one heat - or cold application with a duration of five minutes each. To clarify, the total time for three cycles is 15 minutes, five cycles is 25 minutes, and seven cycles is 35 minutes. You can certainly use this technique for longer, using nine cycles or more if you so desire. Again, it's important to remember to start and end this therapy with heat. In my experience, you will experience greater pain relief by alternating between hot and cold than by applying heat alone.
2. A simple and effective heat compress can be made by filling an old rubber hot water bottle with hot water that is comfortable to the touch. Fill the bottle halfway with water that will be pleasantly hot when it comes out of the tap. Hold the hot water bottle upright while squeezing it to remove any trapped air. Removing the air from the hot water bottle allows for better heat transfer as it reaches all areas of the hot water and not the air bubbles.
3. Place a damp towel on the surface of the hot water bottle so that the damp towel is between you and the hot water bottle. Check early on whether you will burn yourself on the hot-water bottle; After five minutes, check that your skin is only slightly pink and not bright red.
4. Never use a heating pad of any kind for more than 20 minutes at a time, at the very least it will burn the skin over the area to be heated. Don't buy a heating pad unless it has a built-in timer that will automatically turn off the heating pad. This prevents overuse and heat build-up when you fall asleep or forget the time while using the heating pad.
5. Invest in a moisture-resistant electric heating pad that gives you the added benefit of moist heat that can penetrate deeper into tight muscles and arthritic areas.
6. Another trick to applying heat to a sore lower back or shoulder is to try using a clean white sock with 2-3 cups of uncooked (uncooked) rice. Pour the rice straight from the box or bag into a clean sock, tying a knot at the end to keep the rice from leaking. Microwave it for 1-2 minutes to test if it's at the right temperature so it's hot enough to do you good, yet not so hot that it's uncomfortable or dangerous to eat use. When the rice-filled sock has cooled, it can be reheated by placing it in the microwave for the same amount of time as before. The more rice in the sock, the longer it takes to heat up. Keep the knot tight in the sock and have it ready for any type of quick heat therapy your back may need in the future.
7. Never lie on a heating pad when it is in use. If you lie down with a heating pad or hot water bottle underneath you, you're at a much higher risk of burning your tissues. By placing your body weight on the surface of the heating pad, you compress the tissue and greatly reduce blood flow where the skin is being heated. If heat is trapped in this area due to your body's pressure on the heating pad, and the heated tissue does not have circulating blood to cool it as it normally would due to your body's pressure on the heating pad, the tissue will burn easily. . For a similar reason, people develop pressure sores (also known as bedsores or bedsores) when they sit or lie still for too long because their body weight compresses tissues, reducing blood flow and damaging tissues.
Finally, since you mentioned that you already stretch your lower back to manage back pain, I suggest looking at an inversion traction treatment you can do at home. This is the type of device designed to hold you by your ankles while lying on it and lean back to support you upside down while hanging by your ankles. For many people, it's an easy and very effective way to stretch your lower back.
Thanks for the interesting question. Much luck. DL