In office, we have access to a variety 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 decreases 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 recommended therapy for you and may not be applied.
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 reduces swelling 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 due to its nature to reduce the transmission of pain signals and ease tense muscles.
- Heat opens blood vessels near a painful area, adding oxygen and nutrient flow to the muscles which aids in healing damaged tissue.
- Heat also reduces stiffness and adds flexibility which is most 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 allows stimulation of blood flow by drawing blood into a swollen and painful area with heat and pushing out the blood with an ice pack application.
Application: For nearly all of the 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 pushes 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 trying to manage pain and swelling. 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 extremely effective for your pain management. This generates stimulation of blood flow by drawing blood into a swollen 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 vary depending on your condition.
(1) heat with electroptherapy
(2) cryotherapy with electrotherapy