Jul 8, 2014

Posted by in General, Pain Management, Rehabiltiation | 0 Comments

Hot or Cold?

hot-coldI know that you are supposed to ice certain injuries and you’re supposed to put heat on certain injuries. Which ones and when? I have no idea. So I spoke with our experts in Rehabilitation about the guidelines and here is some of their feedback:


Ice/cold therapy reduces pain, reduces spasm and decreases swelling and inflammation. When to use ice:

  • For initial injuries to decrease swelling and inflammation.
  • For muscle aches and joint soreness following work or activity.
  • If you have used a body part excessively; it is good to ice even if there is no pain.

Application of cold packs:

  • When applying ice or cold packs, use a pillow case or thin cotton material between the cold pack and your skin.
  • Apply ice for 15-20 minutes and remove for at least 20 minutes before reapplying ice.
  • Ice may be applied multiple times throughout the day.

Heat therapy increases the ability to extend muscles and tendons, decreases joint stiffness, can reduce pain and relieve muscle spasms. If heat is a temporary relief (less than 20-60 minutes) consider using ice. When to use heat:

  • Before activity to warm up muscles and joints.
  • When joints feel stiff and sore and an activity is going to be performed.

Do not use heat:

  • For initial injuries, this increases swelling and will slow the healing process.
  • After an activity is finished; it is best to ice and reduce soreness.
  • If there is a loss of sensation.

Application of heat packs:

  • Always use a towel or cloth between the heat pack and the skin.
  • The heat should not feel like it’s burning the skin, add more towels or layers if this is occurring.
  • Heat may be applied for 20-30 minutes.
  • Heat may be applied multiple times throughout the day.
  • If using a whirlpool, the temperature should not be greater than 104 degrees.

Well, that clears a lot of things up. And, it makes sense on why there are ice packs at sporting events and no heat since you use ice for initial injuries. Makes sense!

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