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Heat Therapy – The #1 Doctor Recommended Treatment for Back Pain

November 30, 2018

Heat Therapy – The #1 Doctor Recommended Treatment for Back Pain

By Victor Viner, Founder and CEO of Moji – A Health and Wellness Company

Are you one of the more than 200 million American adults who suffer from back or neck pain? Are you one of the 540 million people worldwide who experience low back pain? Is pain affecting your quality of life? If yes, you need doctor recommended heat therapy to help ease your pain.

Doctors Recommend Heat Therapy to Treat Back and Neck Pain

Heat should be your first line treatment for back pain, according to guidelines published by the American College of Physicians in 2017. The ACP is a leading global association of physicians that frequently sets standards for medical treatment often widely adopted by other organizations. After ACP researchers reviewed randomized controlled trials and observational studies of treatments for back pain, the ACP found that the evidence demonstrated heat relieved pain quickly. When heat was combined with exercise even greater pain relief was achieved.

Heat for easing back and neck pain is not new. This therapy has worked for more than 2,500 years. Just ask Hippocrates. Best of all, heat is safe, effective, inexpensive, and easy to use.

More than one in four Americans suffer from chronic back or neck pain, often because of repetitive motion such as computer and cell phone use, or overuse such as heavy lifting. Sometimes back or neck pain is caused by a severe injury. In cases of serious injury when the area is bruised or swollen, the skin is broken, or the area is hot to the touch, cold compresses or an ice pack should be used immediately. But 48 hours later and thereafter, heat becomes the most effective and recommended treatment, according to an article in Harvard’s Men’s Health Watch. But the vast majority of back or neck pain is not the result of acute injuries. For pain from these non-acute injuries, the ACP says heat is the best initial treatment.

Why Use Heat Therapy?

  • Eases pain
  • Soothes muscle tension
  • Helps reduce spasms
  • Reduces stiffness in neck and back
  • Relaxes muscles
  • Increases mobility
  • Heals damaged tissues

How Does Heat Work? Why Does Moist Heat Work Best?

While there are many types of heat that people can use, they are not all equal. Moist heat penetrates your body faster and deeper than other forms of heat, such as heat from a heating pad or heat patch. You feel greater pain relief with moist heat because moist heat quickly gets into your muscles – the root of most back and neck pain. Plus moist heat won’t dehydrate your skin the way dry heat does.

Heat improves blood circulation causing more oxygen and nutrients to flow into your muscles. This speeds the healing process after an injury and increases your mobility. Moist heat helps stretch soft tissues, easing muscle tension and knots and, increasing flexibility in the tendons and ligaments. Heat also blocks pain signals to your brain. If that weren’t enough, heat feels so good. It’s comforting. Who doesn’t like hot tubs, steam rooms, or hot showers?

Just 15 to 20 minutes of safe, natural, and effective moist heat therapy benefits you for hours. That’s where Moji helps. Our three heated back and neck wrap solutions are specially designed to provide consistent moist heat therapy at the optimal temperature for more than 20 minutes.

Our moist heat wraps can also be used before and during exercise to reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Moving while wearing heat helps pain sufferers maintain a higher level of flexibility and blood flow. Moji’s heated wraps are wearable and move with you, so you can walk, work, and be active. That way, your muscles stay limber and blood flows better. The result? You feel great, so you want to stay active. Better yet, you become more active.

Pain Relievers and Surgery for Back and Neck Pain

Pain relievers and surgeries should be last resorts for treating back and neck pain, studies say. Even over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories have side effects and may lose their effectiveness over time. Based on studies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned that taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs increased potential health risks such as gastrointestinal bleeding, heart attack, or stroke. The ACP guidelines recommend that patients skip these over-the-counter drugs and that doctors refrain from prescribing opioids for patients suffering from back pain.

“What we need to do is to stop medicalizing symptoms,” Dr. James Weinstein, a back pain specialist and chief executive of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System, told the New York Times in 2017. “Pills are not going to make people better,” he said. Others agree. The growing opioid problem is leading physicians nationwide to reassess prescriptions.

To cope with back and neck pain, doctors also recommend exercise rather than extended couch or bed rest. Although it sounds counterintuitive that you should move more when you have back or neck pain, ACP researchers found that exercise improved pain relief and mobility when compared with no exercise.  So when you have back and neck pain, you might try some of the exercises outlined by healthcare professionals or sources such as WebMD for back pain. But before you exercise, consider heating up your muscles first.

References

  1. Hartivigsen, Jan, Mark J. Hancock, Alice Kongsted, Quinette Louw, Manuela L. Ferreira, Stephane Genevay, Damian Hoy,  et al., “What low back pain is and why we need to pay attention,” The Lancet  391, 10137 (2018), 2356-2367.  https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)30480-X/fulltext.  
  2. Qaseem, Amir, Timothy J. Wilt, Robert M. McLean, and Mary Ann Forciea, “Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians,” An. Intern Med, 166, 7 (2017):  514-530http://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/2603228/noninvasive-treatments-acute-subacute-chronic-low-back-pain-clinical-practice.
  3. Moeller, Andrew, “How to Use Heat for Lower Back Pain Relief.” Spine-health. Nov. 21, 2016 https://www.spine-health.com/blog/how-use-heat-lower-back-pain-relief.
  4. Solan, Matthew, “Home Remedies for Low Back Pain.” Harvard Health Publishing. February 2017. https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/home-remedies-for-low-back-pain.
  5. Petrofsky, Jerrold, Lee Berk, Gurinder Bains, Iman Akef Khowailed, Timothy Hui, Michael Grando, Mike Laymon, et.al., “Moist Heat or Dry Heat for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.” J Clin Med Res. 5, 6, (2013), 416-425. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3808259/
  6. Moeller, Andrew, “How to Use Heat for Lower Back Pain Relief.” Spine-health. Nov. 21, 2016 https://www.spine-health.com/blog/how-use-heat-lower-back-pain-relief.
  7. Miller, John, “Heat Packs. Why does heat feel so good?”  Physio Works. https://physioworks.com.au/FAQRetrieve.aspx?ID=30990.
  8. Brody, Jane, “Opioids Aren’t the Only Pain Drugs to Fear.” New York Times. Sept. 4, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/04/well/opioids-arent-the-only-pain-drugs-to-fear.html.
  9. “The Benefits and Risks of Pain Relievers: Q & A on NSAIDs with Sharon Hertz, M.D.,” U.S. Food & Drug Administration.  Sept. 24, 2015. https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm107856.htm.
  10. Kolata, Gina, “Lower Back Ache? Be Active and Wait It Out, New Guidelines Say.” The New York Times. Feb. 17, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/13/health/lower-back-pain-surgery-guidelines.html.  
  11. ”Good and Bad Exercises for Low Back Pain.” WedMD.  https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/ss/slideshow-exercises.




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