Alternating heat and ice can sometimes be more effective for treating lower back pain than using either application solely.
Once you are beyond the acute stage it is usually safe to proceed to heat application.
At times, even after 72 hours of ice, the injured area may still be quite painful, spastic and show some evidence of swelling.
Completely discontinuing the ice application and going directly to heat may be premature. Using heat before the pain and inflammation has subsided enough can increase the pain and spasm, especially if the injury has been more than a minor strain.
A few days of alternating heat and ice back to back is highly recommended.
What this will accomplish is threefold:
By using heat and ice you end up getting the positive effects of both while minimizing the negative or adverse reactions to either.
The only drawback is that it will take forty minutes to complete.
Once again be sure you wait at least sixty minutes before repeating the process.
** If, after using this alternating heat and cold method, the pain seems to be getting worse revert to using just ice once again until the pain has significantly subsided.
One final note. Some people are cold sensitive or intolerant. If you are one of these people avoid using ice but do not use heat during the first 72 hours following an injury.
After three to ten days heat can be used by itself.
It is also wise to engage in some comfortable exercise, such as five to ten minute walks, following both ice or heat application...if pain permits.
Never engage in any extensive exercising or stretching during the first 72 hours following a strain or sprain. Doing so will risk further injury and prolong your recovery time. It will also increase your chances for developing a chronic pain pattern..