Hot and Cold Therapy for Neck Pain
Those with neck pain may often resort to a warm compress in order to provide relief from their pain and there are no shortage of neck warmers, natural microwaveable wheat bags, and even a warmed scarf from the radiator available to provide temporary comfort. Similarly, those who have a muscle strain, particularly after playing contact sports, may feel inclined to apply cold to the area in order to reduce inflammation and pain. In light of these simple home remedies is there any clear scientific evidence to account for the purported effects of either thermotherapy (heat) or cryotherapy (cold)?
Studies looking at the application of heat or cold to the neck, as a conservative treatment, in both healthy controls and those suffering neck pain have found significant effects in the autonomic nervous system, the anterior-dorsal region of the medial prefrontal cortex (adMPFC), circulation, and systemic stress hormone levels that can account, in part, for the empirical evidence supporting the use of thermotherapy and cryotherapy. In addition, researchers have looked at ways to increase the effects of these simple-looking therapies to treat neck pain and highlight the importance of applying the correct treatment in cases of trauma in order to effect positive outcomes. In comparisons of these therapies to other alternative treatments for neck pain and to orthodox practices, cryotherapy and thermotherapy stand up well, making them an excellent, and inexpensive, strategy for alleviating neck pain for a large number of patients with chronic conditions.
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