When used for herniated disc treatment, heat or ice can help minimize pain

A herniated disc is described as the jellylike center of the disc pushing against a tear in the outer wall, causing nerves to become irritated. Pain relief is perhaps the most important goal of herniated disc treatment. Heat or ice therapies are often recommended as part of a comprehensive pain management plan. Learn about which treatment is right for you in the following article.

Heat therapy for herniated disc treatment

Heat therapy, or thermotherapy, can be an extremely beneficial self-care option for the muscle spasms and trigger points that can be caused by a herniated disc. Heat helps increase blood flow and oxygen supply to the treated area. This, in turn, helps reduce pain and relax sore muscles.

If muscle cramps and deep muscle pain are your primary problems, hot towels, heat packs and other forms of heat therapy may provide targeted relief. Heat also provides a mild pain relieving effect. By altering your perception of the pain signals being sent through your body, heat therapy can help reduce your overall discomfort.

Ice therapy for herniated disc treatment

Ice therapy, or cryotherapy, is a more appropriate at-home treatment for inflammation and acute soft tissue injury. In the case of herniated disc pain, ice packs or cold gel packs may reduce the swelling and inflammation around the irritated or compressed spinal nerve that is the source of the discomfort.

According to one study from the International Journal of Sports Medicine, patients benefited most from repeated 10-minute sessions of ice therapy. The most effective method of delivery involved melted ice water, applied through a wet towel.

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For multimodal herniated disc treatment, heat or ice packs can be used in succession. Some patients find this more effective than using one without the other. Because both options are affordable, noninvasive and safe to do at home, alternating them is a common method of herniated disc pain relief.

Combining thermotherapy and cryotherapy can be tricky, as muscle spasms often respond poorly to ice and inflammation generally responds poorly to heat. However, every individual responds differently to these treatments. If one, or both, provides relief without causing any associated discomfort, it can be a valuable part of your herniated disc treatment plan.

If you’ve tried heat or ice therapy and other nonsurgical herniated disc treatment options without success, it may be time to consider seeing if you are a candidate for surgery, such as the minimally invasive procedures offered at Laser Spine Institute. Our dedicated team is able to perform outpatient procedures which use a less than 1-inch incision and muscle-sparing techniques. Thus, resulting in no lengthy recovery and a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck and back surgery.^

Contact Laser Spine Institute today and ask for your no-cost MRI review* so we can help you decide on the best course of action and guide you through your journey to wellness.

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