I have a muscular contracture in the back. How can I reduce pain without taking any medication? Would it be helpful to apply cold or heat on the affected area?

Muscle contracture is a very frequent reason for primary care and traumatology. It involves an involuntary and continuous contraction of a muscle that causes pain before movement and, in the most severe cases, even pain at rest. Some very frequent areas of muscular contracture are the cervical, at the back of the neck, and the lumbar, which causes the well-known low back pain.

The causes of muscle contractures are overexertion, poor postures and even exposure to drafts. Sometimes they can also be caused by accidents such as the classic whiplash when we receive an impact from behind in the car. The whiplash causes a strong contracture, as well as pain in the cervical area that can lengthen a few months or even a longer period.

The treatment of muscle contractures are anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen, diclofenac…) and muscle relaxants such as benzodiazepines, generally requiring several days until remission. Soft and dry local heat relieves contracture and helps relax the muscle. The cold, on the other hand, is usually counterproductive. In general, contractures require treatment with anti-inflammatories, unless they are very soft. In these cases, relief with topical ointments or gels of these same anti-inflammatories and by heat in the contracted area with an electric blanket or hot water bags can be attempted. If the contracture does not disappear or the pain does not subside within a few days, it is advisable to go to the family doctor for a proper evaluation of the case.

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