When To Use Ice or Heat
By Scott T Sheriff, DC, Aug 6 2019 06:00AM
Both ice and heat can be beneficial - when used at the right time. Keep reading to learn when to use ice and when to use heat.
If you are out cutting grass, cleaning out the garage or simply out training for a marathon and suffer an injury, apply ice immediately. For most new injuries, ice is the way to go. Ice helps to alleviate pain, swelling, and inflammation when there has been tissue damage. The general rule is to apply ice for 20 minutes every 2 hours as needed. Ice is recommended for the first 3 days following a new injury.
Heat helps best with chronic muscle aches, stiffness, or arthritis. Mild, moist heat helps to calm nerves and relax muscles. Heat also causes the blood vessels in the area to expand and bring in fresh blood and flush out waste products. Use mild heat for about 20 minutes every 2 hours as needed. Watch out - too much heat (high temperature, prolonged time) can actually increase pain and inflammation and make you feel worse.
If you are not sure which to use, it's best to do nothing - and then give me a call! Heat can do far more harm than good when used inappropriately. Also, if something starts to hurt and you have no idea why, give ice a try first.