June 20, 2009

Neck Pain, Massage Therapy and Ice

In previous articles we've seen that both massage therapy and ice therapy can provide meaningful back and neck pain relief.

On the one hand, massage therapy helps by increasing circulation and stimulating natural pain relief chemicals known as endorphins. In addition, simple human touch has been clinically shown to greatly reduce the discomfort of patients suffering with even the most debilitating pain.

And ice is well known for its ability to numb sore tissues and reduce the inflammation and swelling that often occurs after an injury. Also, some believe that it slows nerve impulses transmitted from the injured area.

All of which, makes ice an effective means for reducing pain.

So, given the above information, the next logical step is to combine the two modalities into a back or neck soothing ice massage.

How To Do An Ice Massage

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While there are several methods of applying ice to an injured area, for our purposes, I've found that simply freezing water in a paper cup seems to work about the best. Once frozen, all you have to do is peel back the paper just enough to expose about an inch of the ice and you have the perfect size and shape ice cube to work with.

(And, as an added bonus, the cup gives you something that's easy to hang on to.)

Okay, so now that you have your jumbo-size ice cube, just start gently rubbing the ice in a circular motion over the neck. You only need to cover an area about the size of your hand or a small saucer, so don't get carried away and try freezing the entire State of New Hampshire.

Also, to prevent an ice burn -- what you and I would call frostbite -- avoid holding the ice in one spot for too long. Instead, keep moving it.

Finally, try to avoid applying the ice directly to bony surfaces. Stick to massaging the soft tissues where the injury actually exists.

Keeping Your Cool

You only need to apply the ice for about 5 minutes per session. Any more than that and our old friend frostbite will rear his ugly head again.

And while you're at it, you may want to use a towel or some gloves to protect your fingers from ice burn, as well.

Once the area is sufficiently numb, you should find that the pain is much more tolerable and some limited movement should be possible. Just take it easy and don't over do things at this point.

If the pain comes back, you can repeat the procedure two or three times a day if necessary.

Till next time,
Dean



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