Believe it or not, in this day and age of advanced technology and information, “Should I use ice or heat for my scoliosis pain?” is still one of the most common questions our ScoliSMART doctors are asked by their patients. One of the reasons for this is because patients tend to lump all “pain” symptoms into one category, when in fact treating acute pain (recent and short term) and chronic pain (long term and constant) with ice and heat are very different.

Ice vs Heat for Scoliosis Pain


Acute pain is generally associated with a sudden and specific injury causing instant pain, like a sprained ankle or when someone throws their back out while lifting something too heavy or incorrectly. Ice, not heat, is indicated for acute pain (along with rest, compression, and elevation) in conjunction with short-term use of over-the-counter NSAID (Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc.) to help control the inflammation effects. Acute pain associated the spine may also benefit from chiropractic care.

Chronic pain is the constant, long-term type of pain most associated with idiopathic scoliosis, and the most common complaint associated with the condition. While many physicians disagree on the topic, the ScoliSMART doctors generally recommend a combination of ice and heat for chronic scoliosis-related pain syndromes, with a regiment that always starts and ends with ice for 10-20-minute increments. In addition, many of our patients with scoliosis-related chronic pain also report significant improvement when including controlled-release curcumin (ScoliPAIN Plus), the Adult ScoliSMART Activity Suit, and/or the Adult Scoliosis BootCamp program.

Additional Options for Scoliosis Pain Relief


Curcumin is the active ingredient found in turmeric (yes, the spice used in cooking) and has been used as a natural pain reliever for literally centuries. The beneficial effects curcumin provides appear to reduce inflammation (and therefore pain) at the area of injury, as well as block pain receptors in the brain, reducing the amount of pain sensation actually felt. While it has also been linked to many other health benefits, it is more predominantly used in cases of muscular pain and even can be used topically (ScoliPAIN Lotion) for very specific areas of pain. Be sure to purchase a curcumin supplement that includes 5% black pepper extract (often called BioPerine) and is formulated to be controlled release (otherwise, it clears out of your system rather quickly).


Another option, CBD oil, has become very popular in recent years for managing all types of chronic pain. A derivative from marijuana (without the euphoric high caused by THC), it can be ingested or used topically. While many claims regarding the benefits of CBD oils are made, few are substantiated outside of its ability to reduce sensitivity (and therefore pain) of hypersensitive nerve roots. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for, so the doctors from ScoliSMART Labs have done the legwork for you and recommend ScoliPAIN Complete, which is a soft gel combo of curcumin and 100% THC-free, pure CBD oils.


Kratom has also been mentioned as a possible natural pain management reduction option for scoliosis-related pain. An herbal supplement most commonly used for arthritic pain, it appears to work like a stimulant in low doses, a pain reliever in high doses, and a sedative in very high doses. It is believed to work though the opioid receptors, so questions about its dosage, safety, and possibly addictive nature remain. These unanswered questions are significant enough to prompt the Mayo Clinic to recently label Kratom “unsafe and ineffective” in a recent article.

Systemic Enzymes

Recently, some researchers and doctors have begun experimenting with systemic enzymes for treating both acute and chronic inflammation leading to pain. While the research on this approach for scoliosis pain management is virtually non-existent, some of the well-known mainstream medical establishments are taking notice.


Treating pain can be difficult and treating chronic scoliosis pain can feel darn near impossible, but many patients are finding success with a combination of approaches and remedies that best fit their specific needs. Ice and heat contrast therapy, curcumin (muscular based pain) and CBD oils (nerve based pain) may be the most effective and conservative approach for most, but including additional products like Kratom or systemic enzymes could also be a possibility for those whom do not experience enough scoliosis pain relief from that approach alone. So get out there and figure out what will work best reducing your scoliosis pain!