Should I Use Heat Or Ice To Relieve My Pain?

After a joint or muscle injury, it is common to treat inflammation, swelling, and pain with cold and/or heat therapy. When is it right to use cold therapy vs. heat therapy? Can you use both on the same injury?

COLD OR ICE THERAPY

Ice or a cold compress is recommended for severe muscle spasms, bruising, and swelling associated with acute sprains/strains and orthopedic rehabilitation. It causes constriction of blood vessels, decreased metabolism, and decreased nerve conduction, or analgesia. Inflammation can last for a couple of days; therefore, cold packs can be applied a few times a day for several days after the injury or until symptoms improve.

HEAT THERAPY

Heat causes dilation or increased blood flow to the area of application. This aids in promoting the healing process by increasing oxygen uptake in the tissue. Heat also helps generate soft tissue extensibility.

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