Heat creams, ointments and heat patches contain skin irritants. The active ingredients present in the ointments create a reaction that results in blood rushing to the applied area.
The blood rushing to the surface of the skin, along with the irritation create the hot sensation. Muscles will also warm up in the process of blood rushing to the area, which is why the use of heat ointments are so prevalent in sporting change rooms.
Whilst these ingredients are not overly harmful to the body, continuous daily use is not ideal.
As the smell of liniment or deep heat often brings comments of a football change room, the use of heat ointments regularly to assist with the symptoms of back pain is not ideal, especially if you work in an office or are in direct contact with clients.
Alternative options to heat ointments:
Heat ointments are terrific for getting through a sports activity, or a day's work after waking up with a stiff back. However if you do suffer from an ongoing achy back, forming a habit of using a wheat bag placed in the microwave with a small cup of water is most optimal.
The steam held in the wheat penetrates deep into the muscles of the lower back often reaching the areas where people experience discomfort. Hot baths are even better as the entire back and hip region is immersed in hot water which has a greater benefit on the restricted connective tissue of the lower back which is another common source of discomforting back pain.
So in conclusion, if you need to get through an activity or can't take the day off work, heat ointments are a great method of assistance. However if you find you are requiring heat as a form of pain relief on a daily basis we definitely recommend looking for a preferable alternative.
And if pain your back pain is persistent, seek out a practitioner who can address the cause of your pain and offer you lasting relief.