The effectiveness of cold therapy for neck pain

16 January 2015
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16 January 2015, Comments: 0

Cold therapy is mainly used to minimize swelling and pain. It is important to note that neck pain can occur due to various reasons including sports injuries, trauma or overuse. With the help of ice packs, neck pain can be lessened. Remember that cold is often the initial treatment measure right after an injury is sustained to reduce the immediate pain as well as the inflammation and severity of the muscle spasms. Take note that correct application of cold therapy can help reduce neck pain along with the puffiness and muscle tautness.

When is cold therapy contraindicated?

Cold therapy is not recommended on body areas that have tingling, numbness or there is lack of sensation where the degree of coldness could not be felt. Cold therapy should not be used if the individual has certain conditions such as cold hypersensitivity, Raynaud’s phenomenon, hives and rashes due to exposure to cold. Conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiac issues and healing wounds are not contraindications for the application of ice packs but require further monitoring.

Neck pain-cold therapy

Remember that cold is often the initial treatment measure right after an injury is sustained to reduce the immediate pain as well as the inflammation and severity of the muscle spasms.

Physiology

Both heat and cold are the most common forms of passive, non-invasive therapies. When it comes to cold therapy, it works by constricting the blood vessels thus slackening the circulation and reduces soreness, swelling and muscle spasms. Remember that cold is ideally applied on fresh injuries.

As for heat therapy, it promotes additional blood flow to the affected areas through vasodilation. Take note that heat therapy should not be used during the initial 72 hours after the occurrence of the neck pain.

When to use cold therapy?

The ice pack must be applied over the sore area in the neck. In case there is a muscle tension headache, the location of the ice pack must be on the upper part of the rear of the neck where it connects to the skull. Make sure that you will cover the ice pack with a cloth or towel to preserve the coldness. Do not apply cold therapy directly on bare skin. Protect the skin from overexposure and possible skin and nerve damage by placing a barrier such as a cloth or towel.

The appropriate time frame for the application of cold therapy is between 10-20 minutes. This must be followed by 60 minutes of rest. After the 60 minute break, the cold therapy can be re-applied for another 10-20 minutes. Take note that the cycle can be repeated several times to minimize the neck pain, spasms and swelling. In case the pain persists, it is best to seek medical care. If you want to learn more about this treatment option, click here.

Involvement of the cervical spine

The cervical spine can become sore or tight after various physical activities. The neck muscles are responsible for connecting the head to the vertebrae, collar bones, sternum and shoulder blades. Remember that the neck is responsible for movement and support the head. The correct application of cold therapy for neck issues such as neck pain is vital as well as helps in preventing additional damage.

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