woman having a hot bath

Do Baths Help Back Pain? Exploring the Benefits

A hot bath can do wonders for sore muscles, but do baths help with back pain?

I had the same question after my back started hurting in the evenings, and my doctor recommended heating pads to reduce the discomfort. 

So, after researching the subject, I'm here to share my findings with you! 

Key Takeaways

  • Hot baths and hot tubs have several health benefits and can be a suitable treatment option for back pain. Alongside these treatments, using a sports belt for back support can also provide added relief and support during physical activities. 
  • Cold baths can help reduce back pain when you have swelling and inflammation. 
  • Always consult a doctor before trying heat or cold treatment for back pain, especially if you're pregnant or have an underlying medical condition. 

Do Warm Baths Help With Back Pain?

lady taking a hot shower

Hot baths were one of my favorite ways to deal with chronic pain and soreness when I had back pain a couple of years ago. So, I looked at the mechanics of it.

According to studies, heat therapy is an excellent way to recover after soft tissue injuries. That's because heat relaxes tight muscles, reduces spasms, and shortens the recovery period. (1)

Warm water also dilates your blood vessels, stimulates blood flow, and can increase your range of motion and flexibility. 

Baths are also an excellent way to relax and deal with anxiety. And since stress can trigger back pain, a relaxing soak can relieve the physical and mental discomfort.

And as Irina Todorov, MD, says, "Hot water is a good alternative to over-the-counter pain relievers for mild to moderate muscle pain." (2)

However, you should ensure the water isn't scalding. The Arthritis Foundation recommends a hot shower or bath temperature of 92 and 100 degrees. And you should soak for 10-15 minutes at a time. (3)


But what about hot tubs? Are they suitable for back pain? Let's find out! 

Are Hot Tubs Beneficial for Back Pain? 

Hot tub therapy is another excellent method for alleviating back pain caused by strain, stress, and soreness, especially for issues like middle back pain when breathing. Immersing in hot tub water relaxes muscles, eases stiffness, and reduces pain.

Furthermore, a hot tub proves more effective than hot water bottles because moist heat penetrates deeper into the body, soothing strained muscles.

However, it's vital not to remain in a hot tub for an extended duration. The hot water can pose risks such as dehydration, lowered blood pressure, or disrupted heart rhythm.

Check this video to learn more about the benefits of regular hot tub use! 

But what about cold baths? Are they a suitable treatment for back pain? You'd be surprised. 

Can Cold Baths Help with Back Pain?

In some cases, cold is a better treatment option for back pain than heat. It all depends on what's causing the discomfort. 

Cold water lowers your body's core temperature and slows down circulation, restricting the blood vessels and numbing the nerve endings.

Cold baths also reduce swelling in acute injuries. So, cold water immersion therapy is suitable if your back pain is related to inflammation or rheumatoid arthritis. 

However, prolonged exposure to cold can have negative effects on your health, especially if the water temperature is too low. I'm talking about hypothermia, increased risk of heart attacks, and shock. 

Seek medical advice before taking an ice-cold shower or a bath to treat your back pain. 

In addition to considering temperature-based treatments, you might wonder will walking with a cane help with lower back pain? It's another avenue to explore when seeking relief.

Now, let's talk about whether bathing in cold or hot water can make your back pain worse or have a negative effect on your health. 

Can Baths Make Back Pain Worse?

lady having a shower in a bath room

In most cases, a soothing bath won't make your back pain worse. It should relax the muscle knots in your back, relieve tension, and promote healing.  

However, heat increases inflammation, which is why you don't apply a warm compress on a swollen area or a bruise. So, a hot bath can make you feel worse if you have inflammation. 

Moreover, bathing in warm or cold water might not relieve your discomfort if the cause is related to an underlying problem, such as kidney stones. 

When Should You Avoid Baths for Back Pain? 

You should talk about taking a hot back for back pain with your doctor if you have a chronic medical condition, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease.

As I explained, heat dilates the blood vessels, which can lower your blood pressure too much, especially if you're taking medication. 

Staying in hot water for an extended period of time can also stress your body, making your heart work extra to keep up. This is dangerous for people with underlying heart problems. 

Also, baths over 98 degrees can be dangerous for pregnant women because heat raises your core body temperature, which puts the baby at risk, according to specialists from WebMD. (4)


1. Is it okay to take a bath when you have back pain?

You can take a hot bath if you have back pain. It can help with the discomfort by relaxing the muscles, reducing soreness, and 

2. Is a hot or cold bath better for back pain?

You should use heat for muscle strains, sprains, and soreness. A cold bath is best for inflammation and swelling. 

3. Why do showers help back pain?

Showers can help with back pain by relaxing tight muscles, increasing blood circulation to the damaged area, and reducing stress levels.  


Baths have medical benefits and can be an excellent home treatment for minor injuries, cramps, and sprains. A hot bath also reduces muscle soreness and stiffness, increasing your range of motion.

However, you shouldn't spend more than 15 minutes in a hot bath because you can overheat your body. Talk to your doctor if the pain persists or gets worse.

What do you think about this topic? Do baths help with back pain? Share your experience in the comment section. 


1. Kim K, Monroe JC, Gavin TP, Roseguini BT. Local Heat Therapy to Accelerate Recovery After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews [Internet]. 2020;48:163–9. Available from: https://journals.lww.com/acsm-essr/Abstract/2020/10000/Local_Heat_Therapy_to_Accelerate_Recovery_After.3.aspx

2. 5 Benefits of Soaking in a Hot Tub [Internet]. Cleveland Clinic. 2022. Available from: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/benefits-of-hot-tubs/

3. Sayre C. Heat Therapy Helps Relax Stiff Joints | Arthritis Foundation [Internet]. www.arthritis.org. Available from: https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/managing-pain/pain-relief-solutions/heat-therapy-helps-relax-stiff-joints

4. Contributors WE. Does a Hot Bath Induce Labor? [Internet]. WebMD. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/baby/does-a-hot-bath-induce-labor

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