In office, we have access to a number of therapies to help your spine heal. Depending on your symptom, one or more of the following may be suggested:
Cryotherapy (Cold Therapy)
Purpose: Cold therapy stimulates vasoconstriction, the narrowing of blood vessels to slow down blood circulation in an area.
- Cold therapy alleviates pain and swelling after an injury.
- It is the therapy of choice for spinal pain within the first 72 hours.
- Cold reduces the flow of fluid into tissues and slows the chemicals that inflame and cause pain.
- Cold reduces swelling and bleeding and nerve ending conduction of pain impulses.
- Deep tissue cooling with ice diminishes muscle spasm by lessening muscle contraction.
Note: If you have circulation problems, can’t feel cold or are allergic to cold, ice may not be the preferred therapy for you and may not be used.
Application: A towel is always placed between you and the cold pack. Since inflammation and pain often accompany acute injury in the first 72 hours after an injury, ice only may be applied. Ice decreases inflammation and numbs the pain in short spurts like 10 minutes at a time.
Thermotherapy (Heat Therapy)
Purpose: Heat therapy fosters vasodilation, the enlarging of blood vessels to bring more blood to an area.
- Heat is generally sedating because of its ability to decrease the transmission of pain signals and relax tense muscles.
- Heat enlarges blood vessels near a painful area, increasing oxygen and nutrient flow to the muscles which helps heal damaged tissue.
- Heat also reduces stiffness and increases flexibility which is extremely important in a healthy back to help you regain 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 often recommended. This generates stimulation of blood flow by bringing blood into an inflamed and painful area with heat and driving 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 causing more pain. Hunting’s Effect is useful to the body when you may find yourself in danger of severe cold, but not when attempting to manage pain and inflammation. Heat sedates muscles and joints and cold drives out inflammation. A combination 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 generates stimulation of blood flow by bringing blood into an irritated and painful area with heat and driving 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 change depending on your condition.
(1) heat with electroptherapy
(2) cryotherapy with electrotherapy