When we suffer pain, we often turn to heating pads or ice packs. But did you know that that might not be the best option? In some ways, it makes things worse. Let me explain.
I've learned from various medical professionals, that heating pads are tricksters for your pain. It soothes the tension and the warmth lulls you into a false sense of being pain-free. In reality, its a mask that once removed, sends you spiraling as you feel that sudden jolt of sharp discomfort all over again. I do still use the heating pad. It has its time of being needed. My time for using it would be bedtime. I need sleep. I'm not a nice person when I don't get enough sleep. I'm grouchy and irritable. So when you add my lack of sleep to my daily, chronic pain... lets say that I make fire-breathing dragons look like kittens.
So when I'm feeling especially bad, I will take the heating pad to bed with me. Sometimes, I even wrap it around my lower back, under my shirt to keep it in place in case I roll over in my sleep.
The one I have, I love! I have the SoftHeat heating pad. Mine has three settings of heat. And it turns itself off after a while. The one I linked to, actually has been updated from my older one to have 4 settings of heat. Walgreens also has a deluxe model that straps on. Getting fancy! Though they cost the same. Usually, I'm asleep before it turns off. I also love that it has a washable cover that comes off with a snap. And the best bonus to this? Being a natural popsicle, this also ensures I won't be shivering in my bed! Hey hey! I like to turn it on, set it in bed under the blanket, get ready for bed, and finally lay down feeling warm. Just remember, I'm fully aware that my pain will return in the morning with my consciousness. For now, its a short term fix to get more, restful sleep.
Now to talk about ice. Ice is actually better for your muscular pains. For me though, I feel like it freezes everything so while I'm on it, I have that same relief as in the heating pad arena. I used this when I would have to sit for hours at my desk job. The problem I had, was when I would try to stand up and walk after being chilled. I would tense up and stumble awkwardly until everything got loose again.
How do we get these two to work in our favor? My chiropractor actually told me to alternate. You do 15-20 minutes of heat, then 15-20 of ice, and finish with 15-20 minutes of a break. It was a release pattern. Didn't help much, but I chalked it up to being pregnant and nothing would work during that time. I found this article that gives lots of details and information on making the most of your treatments with heating pads and ice packs. This type of treatment might not work for everyone. It sometimes does good for my back pains though. Always worth a shot, right? Let me know your thoughts on these methods in the comments below!