Cold therapy — conservative treatment for neck or back pain

Cold therapy, often used in conjunction with hot therapy, is one of the most common forms of conservative treatment for neck or back pain. Most patients who suffer from chronic neck or back pain find temporary pain relief by applying an ice pack or other forms of ice on the painful area of the spine. Depending on the intensity of the pain, the cold therapy may be applied every 15 minutes to help reduce pain.

Most physicians advise that patients use cold therapy with other forms of conservative treatment for neck or back pain, such as physical therapy and chiropractic care. If you have been diagnosed with a spine condition and you are not applying cold and/or hot therapy to help your neck or back pain, you should consult your physician about adding this treatment to your regimen.

Types of cold therapy

Cold therapy is an effective form of pain relief because it helps to constrict the veins along the spine, which slows circulation and reduces inflammation. Often, inflammation along the spinal walls is responsible for impacting a nerve in the spinal canal and causing chronic pain. An ice pack or other form of cold compress can help to reduce the swelling and pain in the neck or back.

Most cold therapies require 10–15 minutes of cold compress on the spine, two to three times a day. Consult your physician about how many days a week you should undergo this therapy.

You can use several things as a cold compress to help relieve pain in the neck or back. The most common forms of cold compress include:

  • Ice towel — Wet a towel in cold water, squeeze out the extra water and then place it in the freezer for about 15 minutes or until frozen.
  • Ice pack
  • Homemade ice pack — Mix about three cups of water and one cup of rubbing alcohol in a freezer bag. Freeze for about 10–15 minutes or until slush forms in the bag.

You should never apply the cold compress directly to the skin. Always use a barrier between your skin and the compress, such as a towel or paper towels.

Cold therapy for neck or back pain with other forms of treatment

Cold therapy can often be used in conjunction with other methods of conservative treatment to help increase your pain relief. Consult your physician before combining any treatment methods.

If you have tried several forms of conservative treatment to heal your neck or back pain, and have found no lasting relief, you may want to consult your physician about a surgical treatment option for your neck or back pain.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive spine surgery to help treat chronic neck or back pain. Our minimally invasive surgery is a safer, more effective alternative to traditional open back surgery. We provide minimally invasive decompression surgery and minimally invasive stabilization surgery to treat most spine conditions. The type of surgery performed will be dependent on the location and severity of the spine condition.

If you have any questions about our minimally invasive surgery, we encourage you to reach out to our care team. Our goal is to empower you with knowledge about your spine condition and the treatment options available to you, both conservative and surgical, so you can make an informed decision about your spine care needs. We’ve helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from neck and back pain, and we are confident we can help you get back to your life before your spine condition.