Should I use Ice or Heat for my injury?
I have had many patients come to me asking this question, some, in fact, had been using the wrong one further aggravating their condition.
We use these treatment methods for anything from strained muscles to pain from arthritis. Using an ice pack or hot water bottle can be very effective and efficient was to aid in recovery. Today we will go through the circumstances you should use Ice or heat for and try to answer some key questions around the topic.
As general guidance, use ice for acute injuries or pain, along with inflammation and swelling. Heat is used for tight or stiff muscles, joint stiffness or widespread pain.
This method works by improving blood flow to the applied area. The increase in temperature can ease discomfort and help with muscle flexibility. It can relax muscles, help the healing of damaged tissue and help restore movement.
The heat comes in a variety of forms from hot water bottles to heat pads or a sauna. When using heat apply locally to the area of discomfort for 15-20 mins being mindful not to burn yourself if the item you are using is too hot.
Heat can make some pain worse and should not be used if an area is either bruised or swollen and if you have an open cut.
Using cold therapy works by reducing blood flow to a particular area. This, in turn, helps to reduce down inflammation and swelling that gives you pain. This is particularly effective at treating new injures, inflamed (red, hot, swollen) tissues and muscle spasms.
Cold comes in many forms and can include ice, icepacks, frozen peas (my favorite) and ice baths (my least favorite). You can go one step further and visit a whole-body cold therapy chamber.
You should apply the cold directly to the affected area for 10-15 minutes. Please ensure that if you are using ice or an ice pack that you wrap it in a tea towel to avoid cold burns.
It is best to avoid using cold therapy if you have poor circulation and on stiff muscles or joints.
Please consult your Chiropractor before using ice or heat so they can advise which method is best for you. If in doubt, use ice.
If you are getting some neck pain or low back, please check out some of our other blogs below on stretching and strengthening.
Thank you for reading,
James Revell DC, LCC, MSc(Chiro), BSc(Chiro), BSc(Biol)
By James Revell
Call now 01323 722499