When In Pain – Heat or Ice?

Many patients perform some self-care when they first hurt their lower back until they can get in to see me. ESPECIALLY AT A TIME LIKE THIS. While home remedies can sometimes make the pain go away, sometimes they don’t. It just depends on what you try.

When a nerve in the low back becomes pinched or irritated, the body will protect the delicate nerves by keeping you from moving and risking further nerve injury. The easiest way for the body to do this is to cause the back muscles to spasm in the injured area.

Muscle pain can be quite severe and heat can sometimes soothe the pain. For this reason, many patients take to the heating pad or to the hot tub to try and get some relief. This should be avoided in an acute injury because inflammation is present. With inflammation, there is increased heat and the additional heat you provide is like adding gasoline to a fire. The results are usually not good.

A better choice with an acute injury is to ice the area, but this also needs to be done with some caution. The simplest ice pack is a bag of frozen vegetables especially if the injured area is not flat like the back but a knee. The vegetables will mold nicely. While ice is effective, you can cause a frostbite injury if you leave the ice on for too long. USE A THIN TOWEL UNDER THE ICE PACK. When you first ice the area, you will go through several phases before some pain relief is achieved. At first, the pack will feel cold. The next phase is a burning sensation and the ice will almost feel hot. This is followed by an aching or throbbing sensation. Just before the area is numbed, a very sharp pain will be experienced followed by the relief you desire. It can take between five to ten minutes to go through all of the phases. Only ice for 15 minutes; then you can ice again 1 ½ hours later. Chiro-Trust.org

The Power Of The Mind

In a 1950 study, pregnant women who were experiencing nausea and vomiting were given a drug they were would cure their nausea. What they were actually given was ipecac, a drug given to cause vomiting. Their nausea and vomiting stopped entirely by taking a drug they believed would work. This was not just an improvement the women noticed it was also backed up with tests the researchers did before and after the women took the drug to monitor stomach contractions.

A 1987 study of 200 patients with non-specific complaints received either a “positive” or “negative” consultation. During the positive consultation, the doctor gave the patient a firm diagnosis and confidently remarked they could expect improvement within a few days. In the negative consultation, the patient was told, “I am not sure that the treatment I am going to give you will have an effect”. Both groups thought they were getting medication but received vitamins. 64% of the positive consultation patients got better within 2 weeks while only 39% of the negative patients improved.

Leaves from the Japanese lacquer tree causes a contact dermatitis like poison ivy. In 1962, 57 high school boys were blindfolded and one arm was brushed with leaves from the tree, the other arm was brushed with chestnut tree leaves that don’t cause anything. The boys were told they were brushed with chestnut tree leaves when they were actually brushed with leaves from the poisonous lacquer tree and vice versa. Within a few minutes the arm that was brushed with what the boys thought was poisonous, they began to experience burning and itching with raised red bumps. In most cases, the arm touched with the actual poisonous leaves did not react. The body created the reaction appropriate for what the mind believed.