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Is a Hot Water Bottle Good for Neck Pain?


Looking for some fast relief for your neck pain but not sure what remedy to turn to? Hot water bottles have been a go-to for many bodily aches and pains for many years. But do they really work?

This blog explores the benefits and risks of using hot water bottles, and whether hot water bottles can be useful for neck pain. For further information, contact our experienced team at NDPE today.




Can a Hot Water Bottle Reduce my Neck Pain?

Hot water bottles are a versatile product and are useful in so many situations. Pain relief is just one of the reasons you should have one in your home, ready and waiting for you to fill when you feel that twinge of pain coming on.

However, they don’t always need to be filled with hot water to be effective. You can fill a hot water bottle with cold water to use as a cold compress when needed, which reduces inflammation.

Should I use Hot or Cold Therapy?

When aches or pains strike, hot and cold therapy is an excellent option for temporary relief. But should you opt for the heat from a hot water bottle or something on the cooler end of the scale? This depends on the kind of pain you’re experiencing.

An ice pack is best for acute injuries that are swollen. This is because ice reduces inflammation and is most effective within the 48 hours after an injury. The common framework RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, elevation and is a standard treatment for sports injuries like rolled ankles. Remember that ice shouldn’t be directly applied to the skin.

On the other hand, heat therapy through a hot water bottle or heat pack is ideal for relaxing the muscles.

The Benefits of Using Hot Water Bottles

A 2016 study found that nonpharmacological treatments, including applying heat to the affected area, are still widely used for pain relief. They’re also handy for other reasons, such as keeping warm on a cold night.

Heat therapy remains a tried and trustworthy method of relieving pain for a reason. Even with all of the medical and technological advances that have come along in recent years, sometimes the simplest remedies are all you need. Heat therapy, such as using a hot water bottle, can lead to benefits including:

  • Soft tissue stretching around the spine— this helps to decrease stiffness in your neck, which then relieves tension and pain.
  • An increase in oxygen flow— this helps your muscles get the nutrients they need and promotes healing.
  • Sensory receptor stimulation— when stimulated, these receptors on your skin deter pain signals from reaching your brain, meaning your brain won’t register the feeling of pain.
  • Reducing lactic acid— heat applied to skin allows blood vessels to open which increases blood flow to the area, reducing lactic acid build-up.

The Risks of Using Hot Water Bottles

As with anything involving high heat, hot water bottles come with their risks.

  • Spills— ensure you fill the bottle carefully to prevent spills.
  • Leaks— make sure the bottle itself is free of any tears or small holes, as these can allow leakage.
  • Bursting— an older water bottle may have inferior rubber and be more prone to bursting or leaking.

Ensure you wrap the hot water bottle in a towel, or use a cover of some sort to prevent direct contact between the bottle and your skin.

Alternative Treatment Options for Neck Pain

While a hot water bottle may offer temporary pain relief, it will not treat the cause of your neck pain. Your pain may reduce or resolve for a moment however your symptoms could worsen without appropriate treatment.

A physio can provide a comprehensive assessment, diagnosis, and treatment plan to support your recovery. Rather than masking your injury or disease, physiotherapy focuses on treating the source. When you follow your physio treatment, you can experience long-term reduced pain, increased mobility, and improved quality of life.

Therefore, don’t rely on a hot water bottle to ‘fix’ your neck, but rather utilise it to reduce your pain before or in between treatments from a qualified health care provider.

Experiencing Persistent Pain? Book Your Appointment Today

Sometimes a hot water bottle just can’t do the trick. If you’re experiencing pain in your neck or elsewhere, our team at NDPE is here to help. We offer a range of services including physiotherapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, and more to assist in reducing pain. To find out more or to book an appointment, click below to get in touch.

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Northern Districts Physiotherapy & Sports Clinic was established in 1995 and consists of an energetic team of highly qualified and experienced professionals who take the time to understand ...


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