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Should I Use Heat or Ice For Pain?

Should I Use Heat or Ice For Pain?

Injured? It’s time to grab the heating pad… or the ice pack… or both—who even knows! There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to using heat or ice to help treat common injuries like strains, sprains, pulled muscles, shin splits, knee injuries and tenderness.  

When it comes to choosing between ice or heat therapy, recent research supports using whichever one feels best to you! But if you’re not sure, follow this temperature guide on Heat & Ice therapy below so you can recover and heal faster!  

Cold Therapy 

As a general rule, always choose ice for injuries and inflammation. Cold restricts blood flow and reduces inflammation and swelling. Whenever there’s bleeding in underlying tissue—think sprains, strains or bruising—ice treatment is the way to go. You can use cold therapy in two ways: immediate or rehabilitation. 

Immediate Treatment: helps prevent the injured area from becoming stiff by reducing tissue fluid. 

Rehabilitation: aims to restore normal function to an affected area by reducing pain and spasms, which in turn allows for better movement. 

Conditions for Ice Therapy  

  • Recent Injuries  
  • Swelling 
  • Strains & Sprains 
  • Joint Pain 

If you have bad circulation, then cold therapy probably isn’t for you. If you apply ice for too long (or directly!) then skin, tissue or nerve damage becomes a possibility. If you have cardiovascular disease always consult with their doctor before using cold therapy. 

Heat Therapy  

Usually, heat is the best temperature therapy for relaxing—whereas ice restricts blood vessels, heat opens them, increasing blood flow to an affected area. This is perfect for most aches and pains, and it is also great for repairing damaged tissue since increased blood flow stimulates healing. Minor stiffness and tension can usually be relieved with about 15-20 minutes of heat therapy. 

Do not feel the burn! When using heat therapy, you want to keep a nice, even warmth. If you have swelling or bruising, heat isn’t the right call. Never use it near open wounds, and for people with heart disease or hypertension, always ask your doctor before using this treatment. 

The Complete Heat & Ice Guide

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The Ultimate Treatment 

When it comes to injuries caused by physical activity, heat or ice therapy can be beneficial, but they are not long-term solutions.  

A healthy musculoskeletal system is critical to overall health and healing, affecting how the entire body functions. Chiropractic care can reduce tension and pain and to speed up your recovery time, if an injury happens.