Tag Archives: hot and cold therapy

Ice vs Heat: Which Is Better For Pain?

This October, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is raising awareness of the dangers of opioid use and addiction while looking at safer alternatives for treating chronic pain.

The Centers for Disease Control recommend physical therapy as a safe, nonopioid alternative to pain management. Relax The Back was founded on the principles of the McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnostics and Therapy (MDT). We strongly believe in the power and importance of movement and self-care.

MDT emphasizes active involvement and educating patients in order to minimize visits to the clinic and diminish pain quickly without turning to medications. Through back and neck care education, patients are able to self-treat the present problem and minimize the risk of a relapse. This also allows patients to manage the pain themselves when symptoms occur.

One easy, natural, and affordable option for treating back and neck pain is ice and heat. Cleveland Clinic has put together this infographic to show when ice or heat is better for your specific pain. Understanding your pain symptoms will help find relief at home.

We offer a wide selection of hot and cold therapy products that can relieve tension and stiffness, relax muscles, and bring relief to everyday life. Stop by your local Relax The Back store or visit us online at relaxtheback.com to learn more about our product solutions.

Ice vs Heat Which Is Better For Pain Relief

Knowing the Difference: Strain vs. Sprain

When you’ve got a sore and swollen ankle after falling the wrong way, you’re left wondering if you’ve got a strain or a sprain. Although these two words seem interchangeable, they are injuries that involve different parts of your body.

In the case of a strain, you’ve stretched/torn a muscle or tendon. Tendons are tissues that connect muscle to bone. For this reason, you often hear people “pull a muscle” or “strain a muscle.” Most commonly, hamstrings (during sports) and the lower back (lifting heavy objects) are common muscle strain sites.

In the case of a sprain, you’ve stretched/torn a ligament. Ligaments are fibrous tissues that connect bones to joints. Sprains occur when a joint is forced beyond its normal range of motion, which most commonly occurs when turning or rolling ankles and wrists.

What are the Signs?
Although signs and symptoms will vary depending on the severity of the injury, both strains and sprains share and differ in symptoms.

Common signs include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Instability
  • Limited ability to move the affected joint/muscle

For Sprains:

  • Bruising

For Strains:

  • Muscle spasms and weakness

How are they treated?

For severe cases, see a doctor immediately. But for most mild cases, remembering RICE can help minimize the damage and help recovery:

  • Rest – Limit any physical activity using the body part within the first 24-48 hours after the injury.
  • Ice – Within the first 48 hours, ice the sprain or strain 30 minutes at a time every 3-4 hours. Consider using Reusable Cold Therapy Pads which delivers cold therapy at temperatures that comply with medically accepted protocols.
  • Compression – Use compression to help reduce the swelling. These include bandages such as elastic wraps, special boots, casts, and splints. The wrap should be snug, but not entirely cut off circulation. So if your extremities (fingers and toes) become cold, blue or start to tingle, it’s time to re-wrap! For an all in one therapy system, we recommend the VitalWrap System with a universal 6” wrap, hold, cold and compression therapy.
  • Elevate – Try to get your injury higher than your heart if possible. Use pillows under arms or legs to elevate while staying comfortable at night. Consider a body pillow that provides extra support and stability for all areas of the body, not just the head and neck.

No one is immune to sprains and strains, but here are some to help reduce your injury risk:

  • Exercise to build muscle strength, including stretching to increase flexibility
  • Always wear properly fitting shoes
  • Nourish your muscles by eating a well-balanced diet
  • Warm up before any sports activity, including practice, to loosen up
  • Use or wear protective equipment appropriate for sports and other strenuous activity



Spinal Stenosis

As a specialty health care retailer, we take our job seriously when it comes to providing solutions to customers seeking relief and prevention of back and neck pain. One pain culprit we commonly hear about is spinal stenosis – a narrowing of the spinal canal. It’s most commonly caused by wear-and-tear changes in the spine related to aging. For those with spinal stenosis under the age of 50, genetics diseases affecting bone and muscle development play a role. Spinal Stenosis can be difficult to diagnose (an MRI or x-ray may be required), as people who develop it usually have no history of back problems or recent injury. Often, unusual leg symptoms are the best clues as stenosis may pinch the nerves that control muscle power and leg sensation. These include back, neck, and leg pain, including numbness in the posterior, thighs or calves, and difficulty maintaining balance while walking.Treatment options for spinal stenosis pain relief include:

  • Physical Therapy – Exercises for stenosis pain relief are designed to increased flexion strength. Follow these simple stretches as demonstrated by Madden Physical Therapy.
  • Postural changes – Leaning forward while walking helps flex the spine and relieve some of the symptoms.
  • Cold/heat therapy – Applying heat and ice with our Moji Back Pain Relief System can relieve some of the flare-ups.
  • Medications: In the case that pressure on nerves is caused by inflammation, take over-the-counter pain relievers.
  • Surgery: If other treatments do not ease the pain and the pain becomes worse, surgery may be the next option to recreate space in the spinal canal. Talk with your doctor about how much relief surgery can provide.

Explore one of our more than 100 stores for additional information and a personal assessment by one of our trained associates.



Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) can be painful, but it’s not quite as dire as it sounds due to its misnomer. The term “degenerative” implies to most people that the symptoms will get progressively worse with age, but this is not the case. And technically, it’s not a disease, but a condition of a degenerative or damaged intervertebral disc. This occurs as a natural part of aging due to strain, overuse, and maybe even misuse. As you age, discs – which act like pillow-like cushions between your vertebrae – start to lose its flexibility, elasticity, and its ability to cushion your movements.  DDD occurs when the outer layer of a disc becomes structurally unsound, usually with small cracks and tears. These tears in the disc can cause nerve inflammation or irritation, making it uncomfortable to sit for long periods of time. Over time, this can cause instability and misalignment of the spine. Fortunately in many cases, people with DDD actually improve over time.

If you find yourself having back pain flareups generally made worse with sitting, consider talking to your doctor to get officially diagnosed with an MRI scan. In the meanwhile, here are some tips to help manage degenerative disc disease pain:

  • Physical Therapy – Seek out a physical therapist that can help design exercises and movement habits tailored to your evaluation and physical needs.
  • Seat Cushions – Make prolonged sitting at home, at work, or in the car more bearable with seat cushions. We have a variety to choose from to match you wherever and anywhere you’re seated.
  • Cold/heat therapy – Sooth flare-ups and tired muscles with hot & cold therapy. Alternate with our ProtoCold Reusable Cold Therapy Pads followed by our MediBeads Moist Heat Pads. They’re both safe, effective, clean, convenient, and easy to use.
  • Medications: In the case that pressure on nerves is caused by inflammation, take over-the-counter pain relievers.

Explore one of our more than 100 stores for additional information and a personal assessment by one of our trained associates.


Benefits of Yoga for Back Pain Relief

Many suffering from back pain find yoga intimidating, especially when imagining back bending. But yoga is more than just body twisting – it’s a mind-body practice that combines poses, deep breathing, and meditation. Yoga is also very much a personal practice, and can be easily modified to fit your abilities and limitations with the help of simple props.

Physical Poses
The fundamentals of physical yoga teach you precise alignment and posture to correct any bad and harmful habits in body movement. Overall, stretching and holding poses help increase flexibility, muscular strength and joint mobility while specific poses work to strengthen abdominal and lower back muscles for much needed back support.

Deep Breathing
Yoga incorporates slow and deep, diaphragmatic breathing that balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which can reduce your perception of pain.

Meditation helps you relax, focus, and manage stress that could result in back pain and tension. It can also improve your mental and emotional health to help you keep up with the demands of a busy life impeded by back pain.

Use of Props
Simple props such as pillows, blankets, blocks, and foam rollers can help you hold modified poses according your ability. This allows your body to relax and strengthen in comfortable positions. Relax the Back’s Exercise and Therapy Foam Rollers in particular can be used for abdominal and spine stretching and balance exercises in yoga.

As with any physical activity, the addition of hot and cold therapy can relieve stress on your muscles and body that Yoga may cause. Consider using a Therabeads Moist Heat Pad for muscles aches, arthritis pain and tension. To stay cool, try substituting your yoga mat with the Shield Life Cool Pad.

You should also exercise caution. There are many variations of yoga and finding the right regimen can be confusing. To maximize the healing benefits of yoga, consider practicing with an experienced yoga teacher who can help address your problems and tailor poses and sequences to your needs.