Back pain is common and there is no agreement about the best way to treat this common condition. A new study in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine attempted to determine whether heat or cold is more effective. People with acute backaches who went to the emergency department were randomly assigned an ice pack or a heating pad. They were also given 400 mg of ibuprofen. After half an hour they were asked to rate their pain again. All of the patients felt better, but only by a little bit. The authors concluded that using heat or cold was not clinically significant but that just the act of doing something may help people feel better.
[Academic Emergency Medicine, May 2010]