How Do Hot Water Bottles Help Treat Back Pain?

Red Hot Water Bottle Laying on a BedAre you experiencing a nagging and persistent back pain that’s hard to deal with? Have you tried painkillers and stretching but just can’t seem to get the relief that you’re looking for? Maybe it’s time to try a hot water bottle to help alleviate and treat your back pain.

The use of hot water bottles for pain dates back to before your grandmother was born. It’s one of those old natural remedies that has been tried and true for generations. It’s been proven to be reliable and effective enough to still be used today.

Don’t let pain ruin your day, check out this guide to see if hot water bottles can help alleviate your back pain.

Homemade Hot Water Bottles

If you’re in pain and want to find relief but don’t have a hot water bottle, you can put together a homemade one quickly and easily.

A high-quality plastic zipper bag that is quart or gallon-sized makes a good vessel for warm water. Fill it up halfway, zip it up, and double it up to make sure that it doesn’t leak.

Though it might not be flexible, you can also use a plastic water bottle filled with warm water if you’re in a pinch for time.

Areas That Hot Water Bottles Heal

Although the lower back is the most common place to use a hot water bottle, you could very well use it on your mid or upper back, or anywhere else that you feel discomfort.

  • Muscular Pain

  • Joint Pain

  • Nerve Pain

  • Injury Recovery

Just be sure not to use heat on any area that has visible swelling, as this can worsen the swelling. Always apply cold to reduce swelling.

If you’re unsure as to whether you should use a hot water bottle for your circumstances, it’s best to consult with your doctor, physical therapist, or chiropractor before using it.

How to Use a Hot Water Bottle

Hot Water Bottle Resting on a Woman's BackThe best time to use a hot water bottle is when you can sit and relax while you do it, but if you have to strap it on while you work so be it.

Heat your water on the stove and use a funnel to assist you while pouring it into your hot water bottle then put the cap on. It is best to have a layer of fabric between the bottle and your skin whether that be a thin towel or your shirt.

You can lie down on your stomach and place the bottle flat on your back, place it in between you and the back of a chair or lie down on top of it. But, be mindful that too much pressure on the bottle could pop the top off and cause it to leak.

Hot Water Bottle Temperature

Using certain temperature water in your hot water bottle ensures that not only will you not burn your skin, but that it will be effective. A proper temperature will also keep the material intact and avoid potentially melting or deteriorating the rubber that the hot water bottle is made of.

A thermometer can help you make sure that you’ve got it at just the right temperature (42°C). But you can use a cover if it is too hot for your liking.

When Not to Use a Hot Water Bottle

Are there times when you should not use a hot water bottle?

  • Sprains

  • Strains

  • Inflammation

  • Dislocations

  • Fractures

  • On sunburns or other burns

Though a hot water bottle has a relatively low risk of side effects, there are times when the heat can actually be counterproductive.

How Do Hot Water Bottles Treat Back Pain?

Woman using a hot water bottle to relieve shoulder painHot water bottles are effective at relieving certain types of pain because heat relaxes tense muscles and opens blood vessels to improve blood flow. Not only that, but heat also activates the body’s heat receptors which can block the nerve pathway that detects pain.

Heat in general is relaxing, and applying it to localized pain such as back pain with a hot water bottle can relieve cramps, tense muscles, and many other types of aches. Whether it’s injury pain, muscular pain, nerve pain, or joint pain, a hot water bottle can help provide you with the relief that you’re looking for!

Alternating Hot & Cold

There are certain types of injuries and ailments that require both hot and cold therapy. You can do this in increments of 5-10 minutes each with a few rounds of alternating hot and cold water bottles.

The general rule is in the 48 hours following an injury you should use both hot and cold therapy starting with cold, and then heat. The cold will reduce inflammation, and the heat will improve blood flow.

This is called contrast therapy and can be extremely effective for healing and reducing pain. This technique is used after sporting events by professional athletes to help recovery and to keep the pain away.

Causes of Back Pain

Sometimes the cause of back pain is unknown. But, even mysterious back pain can be treated with heat.

Back pain can stem from a long list of sources such as:

  • Accidents

  • Injury

  • Falls

  • Being Overweight

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Age

  • Athletic

  • Stress

  • Arthritis

Taking care of ourselves means regular exercise, a healthy diet, lowering stress, and visiting a doctor when necessary. When we neglect our health we tend to see more aches and pains pop up.

How Visiting a Physiotherapist or Chiropractor Can Help

Physiotherapist applying treatment to a sore knee Going for physiotherapy sessions helps to address pain and recovery from injury or surgery through physical therapy, stretches, and rehabilitation through the science of movement.

A chiropractor helps with all types of pain, especially back pain by assessing the patient with an examination, testing, and sometimes x-rays. Throughout several sessions, a chiropractor can adjust misalignments in the body and spine to relieve tense muscles, impingements, and disk problems.


These professionals are also a great source of knowledge and can help to educate you as to why you’re in pain and what you can do together to fix it.

Read More: Chiropractic Treatment for Back Pain

When is it Time to Call the Professionals?

If a hot water bottle alone isn’t doing the trick, maybe it’s time to professional treat your back pain. That involves working with either a train physiotherapist or chiropractor to incorporate stretches, exercises, and physical therapy to help you get the results you’re looking for.

In addition to pain relief, the quality of your life will improve once you are no longer suffering and going through the miserable ischemic pain cycle. Imagine your life, pain-free.

Treat Your Back Pain With Elysian

Are you ready to stop suffering from chronic back pain? The health and wellness experts at Elysian are here to help you treat and alleviate your back pain so that you can get back to feeling like normal.

Contact us today to book an appointment for your back pain.

Alex Tieu

Dr. Alex Tieu is a chiropractor with a passion for helping others achieve their health goals. Dr. Tieu wants to help his patients achieve optimal health and feel their best. He firmly believes that chiropractic care can make a significant difference in people's lives.

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