In office, we have the ability to use a number of therapies to help your spine heal. Depending on your symptom, one or more of the following may be recommended:
Cryotherapy (Cold Therapy)
Purpose: Cold therapy stimulates vasoconstriction, the narrowing of blood vessels to slow down blood circulation in an area.
- Cold therapy decreases pain and swelling after an injury.
- It is the preferred therapy for spinal pain within the first 72 hours.
- Cold decreases the flow of fluid into tissues and stunts the chemicals that inflame and cause pain.
- Cold reduces swelling and bleeding and nerve ending conduction of pain impulses.
- Deep tissue cooling with ice reduces muscle spasm by lowering muscle contraction.
Note: If you have circulation problems, can’t feel cold or are allergic to cold, ice may not be the recommended therapy for you and may not be used.
Application: A towel is always placed between you and the cold pack. Since swelling and pain often accompany acute injury in the first 72 hours after an injury, ice only may be used. Ice alleviates inflammation and numbs the pain in short spurts like 10 minutes at a time.
Thermotherapy (Heat Therapy)
Purpose: Heat therapy fosters vasodilation, the widening of blood vessels to bring more blood to an area.
- Heat is typically sedating due to its ability to decrease the transmission of pain signals and calm tense muscles.
- Heat opens blood vessels around a painful area, increasing oxygen and nutrient flow to the muscles which aids in healing damaged tissue.
- Heat also lowers stiffness and adds flexibility which is most important in a healthy back to assist you in taking back your quality of life.
Application: In office, hot packs may be used on your spine with a towel around them for 10 to 30 minutes.
Cryotherapy/Thermotherapy Combined (Hot/Cold/Hot Therapy)
Purpose: Combining cryotherapy and thermotherapy is generally preferred. This generates stimulation of blood flow by drawing blood into an inflamed and painful area with heat and pushing out the blood with an ice pack application.
Application: For most patients coming to our office, a 10 minute hot/10 minute cold/10 minute hot routine is used. This routine is known as the Hunting’s Effect whereby too long an ice session reflexively forces the blood back into the swollen area resulting in more pain. Hunting’s Effect is profitable for the body when you may find yourself in trouble of severe cold, but not when attempting to regulate pain and inflammation. Heat sedates muscles and joints and cold drives out inflammation. A balance of the two is best.
Purpose: Often this hot/cold/hot therapy is used along with electrical stimulation which is doubly-effective for your pain management. This allows stimulation of blood flow by drawing blood into an inflamed and painful area with heat and pushing out the blood with ice pack application and nerve pain sedation with electrotherapy.
Application: Typically each modality with cryotherapy or thermotherapy is 10 minutes each but may vary depending on your condition.
(1) heat with electroptherapy
(2) cryotherapy with electrotherapy