If you’re experiencing low-back pain, cyrotherapy could offer a lot of relief. When I injured my back, the first line of defense was to employ the use of a comfortable ice pack at various times throughout the day. I used a long, cloth-covered pack that ran the length of my spine.
You can purchase a cloth ice pack similar to the one pictured below—these ice packs are life savers during the early stages of healing. This type of ice pack can be positioned vertically along the spine or parallel to your spine at the point of injury. A typical ice regimen would consist of 15 to 30 minute treatments every two to three hours. The ice pack should be wrapped in a thin towel or some type of barrier to prevent burning or irritation of the skin. I found that a t-shirt provides just the right amount of insulation. A word of caution: prolonged exposure to extreme cold could result in loss of blood flow to a particular area—frost bite could occur and in severe cases, permanent nerve damage could result. If you stick to the 15 to 30 minute rule, you should be fine. If you doubt the benefits of cryotherapy, consider some of the possible benefits:
- Cold triggers a release of endorphins which mask pain
- Cold may cause a decrease in nerve transmission of pain fibers
- Cold increases the pain threshold
- Cold reduces the activity of free nerve endings
- Cold sensations may overcome the sensation of pain—this is known as the pain gate theory
- Cold reduces swelling
When an ice pack is applied to the skin, the blood vessels underneath the skin narrow—this is called vasoconstriction. During the process of vasoconstriction, less blood flow reaches the area being cooled and the decreased blood flow reduces swelling and inflammation. It is swelling and inflammation that leads to an increase in pressure around the area of injury—thus causing pain. Ice treatment reduces swelling and consequently reduces pain.
Cold can reduce muscle spasms. Muscle spasms may occur as a response to pain—this is known as muscle guarding. Muscles contract to protect the injured area and the resulting spasm can cause pain. While the mechanism by which ice helps reduce muscle spasm is unknown, it is believed that cold therapy may reduce the activity of motor spindle cells which results in a decrease in motor activity. As you can see, cryotherapy has many benefits and it may be very helpful in the early stages of healing.
The above is an excerpt from my free ebook, Natural Back Healing. If you have not downloaded it yet, you may do so here.