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Does A Heating Pad Help A Bulging Disc?

A bulging disc is considered to be a common injury relating to the spine and vertebral disc. It can become a constant issue for the person suffering from it. This article discusses about whether a heating pad helps a bulging disc.

Does A Heating Pad Help A Bulging Disc?

About Bulging Disc

Bulging disc mainly occurs in the lower back or the lumbar spine, or even the thoracic spine that is the upper or mid back and the neck which is the cervical spine. Most commonly, a bulging spine can be referred to as a slipped disc. It is known as a herniated disc when the bulge of the disc is noteworthy enough for the nucleus to come out of the annulus. The pain can happen due to various reasons. The main aim here is to reduce the pain of bulging disc. In this respect, a commonly asked question is, does a heating pad help a bulging disc? And does it help in reducing the pain.

Before we understand whether heating pads can help a bulging disc, let us first look into the causes and symptoms of a bulging disc.

When a bulging disc occurs, it is mainly due to two reasons:

  • Weakness in the annulus, which occurs due to natural degenerative changes
  • An immense upsurge in the compression through the disc causing grits of the annulus to rip apart – like in sudden jerk during trauma

Symptoms of Bulging Disc

Bulging disc is suspected when the back pain is intensified by:

Some of the other symptoms that are associated with a more serious condition of a bulging disc include sciatica, needles and pins sensation or numbness and leg pain.

Functioning of the bowel system along with an altered bladder function helps in the identification of a critical bulging disc which helps in prompting instantaneous medical assistance.

Does a Heating Pad Help a Bulging Disc?

Relieving the patient from the pain is an important goal. Therapies associated with heat and ice is always recommended because it provides an effective result as a part of the pain management plan.

Heat therapy or thermotherapy can be extremely beneficial for a patient with back pain and bulging disc.(1) People can apply heat pads on their own. Application of heat helps relieve the back muscle spasms which is caused by the herniated or bulging disc. The blood flow is increased incredibly by heat along with the supply of oxygen to the area which is treated. Simultaneously, it helps in the reduction of pain and relaxes the sore muscles. In case a patient is suffering from back muscle cramps or an immense pain in the area of the bulging disc, the best things that can provide immediate relief are hot towels, heating pads and various other forms of heat therapy. Heat therapy can help in the reduction of the overall pain and discomfort by the quick alteration of the pain perception of the patient and the pain signals that travel through the body.

How Does a Heating Pad or Heat Therapy Work for Bulging Disc?

When considering about does a heating pad help a bulging disc, it is important to know the mechanism of its action. The application of heat therapy can relieve lower back pain in the following ways:

Heating pad helps in the dilation of the blood vessels of the muscles that mainly surrounds the lumbar or the lower spine. It is essential as the process helps in the intensification of the flow of the oxygen along with the nutrients to the muscles thereby allowing healing of the damaged tissues.
The sensory receptors that are present in the skin are stimulated by heat. It simply means that the application of heat around the muscles supporting the lumbar spine helps in reducing the transmission of pain indications to the brain allowing relieving the distress.

The application of heat enables the elongation of the soft tissues that are present around the spine which includes the adhesions, the connective tissues and muscles. Heat or thermotherapy will consequently reduce the stiffness along with the injury. There enables an instant increase in elasticity and well-being. For a healthy and a pain free back, flexibility is of utmost importance.

The various benefits of heat therapy make it even more appealing for the patients. In comparison, heat therapy is not only inexpensive but, in some circumstances, it is also free of cost because a hot bath can even do wonders. It is extremely easy to carry out as it can be done at home while relaxing and with the availability of the portable heating pads it allows the patients to carry it everywhere all throughout the day.

Ice Therapy as an Alternative Treatment to Bulging Disc

Cryotherapy or most commonly known as an ice therapy is also an appropriate treatment when at home. It helps in treating inflammation and other injuries related to soft tissue. Swellings and inflammatory areas are best treated with ice packs or the cold gel packs. It should be placed around the compressed spine nerve, the actual source of discomfort. Just like heat therapy, ice therapy One of the most effective methods of relieving pain instantly is melted ice water on a wet towel.(1)

Combined Heat and Ice Therapy for Bulging Disc

In context to a bulging disc treatment, ice and heating pads can be used considerably in succession. This is a common remedy for bulging disc owing to its effective property to relieve pain. Both of these options are readily available, affordable, and safe to carry out at home and are non-invasive.

It is also necessary to keep in mind that cryotherapy and thermotherapy can be extremely complicated at times because the muscles spasms sometimes react inversely to ice and similarly inflammation reacts positively to heat. However, it is important to note that every patient responds differently to the above treatments. If heat pads or ice packs or their alternate usage relieves the pain and other symptoms, it is indeed a favorable bulging disc treatment plan. Overall it is seen that heating pad does help a bulging disc. For most, using heating pads with prescribed medications like anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxants work well. However, if heating pads and other conventional treatment for bulging disc does not show any positive improvement, further treatment options must be discussed.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 6, 2019

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