back pain

Lower Back Pain Relief – How Icing Increases Recovery

When an acute episode of lower back pain occurs, ice is the first line of defense to help reduce your pain. An episode could be a slip and fall, car accident, sudden twist, or picking up something heavy that immediately causes lower back pain. Please note, if you have been in an accident, get checked by a physician, but if you have been cleared by medical personnel, ice should be the first agent you put on your back for the first 48 hours.

Ice will cause the blood vessels in the area surrounding the injury to vasocontrict. That means that the blood vessels will close down and reduce the blood flow to the area. Vasoconstriction is important because the body’s initial reaction to pain, stress, and trauma to an area is inflammation. Ice will help reduce inflammation. Inflammation decreases range of motion and also causes joints to have decreased movement.

Ice should not be applied directly to the skin. Rather it should be placed in a in a towel, paper towel, pillow case, etc in order to prevent frostbite or irritation to the skin. After an injury, you should ice 10 minutes every hour to every other hour.

Icing with frequency will allow for sufficient vasoconstriction in the area in pain. You do not need to exceed more than 10-15 minutes per session. In addition it is not advisable to fall asleep with ice on an area. For maximum effectiveness, keep your icing sessions to 10-15 minutes. Anything longer and you run the risk of giving yourself frostbite.

If your pain is the result of a twisting incident, you may want to ice your gluts as well because rotational movements are generated from your gluts and when they are irritated, they can cause lower back pain.

The last key point to consider while icing for the reduction of your lower back pain is posture or position. If you have injured your lower back, it is best to lie on your stomach with a pillow under your stomach and have the ice pack on your back.

You can also sit in a chair and place the ice between your back and the chair. It is not advisable to lie on the ice because it can create additional unneeded stress to the spine.

The quicker and more frequently you apply ice to the affected area, the sooner and shorter your recovery. As mentioned in the beginning of the article, icing is your first defense.

In our next article, we will discuss the second line of defense that should be applied concurrent with the icing routing that will promote increased healing.

You can receive a Free “Personalized-For-You” Back Pain Relief Guide, complete with instruction for back pain relief in as little as 15 minutes at

Martin Schneckenberger is the head Physical Therapist and Back Pain Specialist for the Spinal Wellness Research Center.

The Spinal Wellness Research Center’s mission is to cure your back pain at the core. In addition, our goal is to prevent future pain from occurring, increase strength, flexibility and endurance to get you back to your normal life active, balanced and pain free.

For more information on upper, lower and middle back pain relief as well as other helpful information, please visit our blog at

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