Hot water bottles are not just good for keeping you warm on a cold night: they can also be powerful pain-relief aids, helping you to get some respite from uncomfortable aches and pains. We’ve pulled together some common questions about how to use hot water bottles to keep back pain at bay.
Can a hot water bottle really relieve back pain?
Pain relief that doesn’t require the use of medicine may sound too good to be true, but using heat as a pain remedy is actually supported by medical experts. On the NHS’ back pain treatment page, hot water bottles are listed as one of the suggested treatments to try, showing that it can be safe and effective.
How does a hot water bottle help back pain?
When you apply heat to the body, it activates the body’s heat receptors. This actually blocks the body’s ability to detect pain, providing a source of temporary relief. In order to feel the full impact, you need to apply heat of at least 40 degrees Celsius directly to the painful area. A covered hot water bottle is a safe way to do this.
What are the best types of hot water bottle for back pain?
Choosing the best type of hot water bottle will depend on your specific needs. Long hot water bottles are particularly helpful if you need to reach awkward areas or cover a large surface area. If you have pain across the whole of your back, then they may help you to target multiple areas at the same time. For pain that is isolated to one area, you may prefer to use a standard hot water bottle, which would allow you to take a more targeted approach.
Is a hot water bottle safe whilst pregnant?
Hot water bottles are considered safe to use during pregnancy, as they are not large enough to affect your core temperature. This means that they can be an invaluable source of relief for the very common aches and pains that pregnant women face. It is recommended that you should wrap your water bottle in a towel before use to avoid irritating the skin, and never fill the bottle with boiling water.
How long can I use a hot water bottle for?
Generally, you shouldn’t hold a hot water bottle against your skin for more than 20-30 minutes. Otherwise, you may be at risk of damaging your skin. It’s definitely not advised to fall asleep using a hot water bottle – instead, try to use it for 30 minutes or so before you go to bed. If you are still experiencing pain after the time is up, let your skin rest for at least 10 minutes before applying more heat.
Can I use my water bottle for cold treatment?
It is possible to fill your water bottle with cold water to create a cold pack, which can also be used to relieve aches and pains. Hot and cold treatments can be effective for different types of pain – for instance, heat treatment will usually work better for arthritis – so you may want to consider trying a hot and cold gel pack if heat is not providing enough relief. As with a hot water bottle, you should ensure that the bottle is covered and avoid pressing it against the skin for extended periods of time.