Nerve pains can be very debilitating and often affect the quality of your life. If you are a working mum who suffers from nerve pain and has a busy life at home and at work, you might have reached out for a hot pack to manage this pain. Heat has been commonly used for centuries to help with pain relief. In this blog lets discuss if a hot pack really helps with nerve pain and how to decide if it is the right for your nerve pain as compared to a cold pack.
First lets discuss how a hot pack can help with nerve pain. When you apply a hot pack, it causes the blood vessels in the area to expand (vasodilatation) and this causes the blood to flow into the area. This flow of blood brings with it an influx of nutrients and oxygen, which helps with healing the area. It washes away the pain producing substances that may have accumulated there. This helps in healing the nerves and reducing the nerve pain.
Heat also helps to increase muscle elasticity and induces relaxation, thus reducing muscle spasm. If the nerve pain is due to an irritation of the nerve from a tight muscle, as it is in most cases, this can be beneficial to reduce the nerve pain. If you have a muscle spasm or tightness or a sudden catch in your muscles or you wake up with stiffness in your joints or spine (back or neck) that increases you nerve pain then try to use a hot pack. However, applying a hot pack does not mean it guarantees pain relief as we also need to identify and manage the cause of the nerve pain.
On the other hand a cold pack is more helpful with acute nerve pain as cold can help to ease the inflammation in the area. Cold packs are also very helpful to ease the soreness or achiness that you may feel due to the inflammation. When you apply a cold pack the blood vessels will shrink or constrict (vasoconstriction). This will slow down the blood flow to the area. This gives time to the body to wash out the swelling and inflammation in the painful area. There is a decreased inflammatory signal in that area, thus promoting healing. Cold also slows down the nerve conduction, the reason why we feel numb when we apply ice to an area. If you have nerve pain due to an acute injury or inflammation then a cold pack is beneficial for you.
Please be mindful of not applying the hot or cold pack that is too hot/cold or going to sleep with a hot or cold pack on due to risk of burns. Another word of caution for those who suffer from diabetes or other neuropathies and cannot differentiate between hot and cold sensation. Please refrain from using a hot pack due to risk of burns/cold burns.
Watch this video for a deeper understanding on the use of hot and cold packs:
These are the general guidelines for the use of heat or cold packs but the final decision of whether you should use a hot pack or a cold pack depends on how your body responds to it. Listen to your body on the body and see what works better for you. It is possible that this effect varies between different body parts and from one person to another.
If you want to know the hot and cold packs that I use, you can find them HERE.
HERE is a free guide on "How can you manage your nerve pain?" where you can get more information about what are nerve pains, how do you know if you are suffering from nerve pains, simple solutions to manage your nerve pain and much more.
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