Heat Or Ice For Pain


Swelling, pain, bruising, or redness is associated with acute injury, and the area has much inflammation and is untouchable. According to the following article, it is then that heat or ice for pain is needed. Ice should be applied immediately instead of waiting 48 to 72 hours as prescribed, as the fluid takes time in reaching the spot of injury because of the joints of the knees, ankles, and elbows.
The severity of the trauma influences the inflammation more in cases of older persons having neck, back, or knee pain. Application of ice should be made for 10 to 15 minutes, which works to constrict the blood vessels. Therefore, this reduces the swelling. For stiff and paining muscles, application of heat results in dilating the blood vessels, which causes more blood flow, supplying more oxygen to reduce the muscle spasm. Consult a doctor to know the time and intensity of ice and heat application.



Heat Or Ice For Pain

When to Ice. Icing should be used when an athlete faces an injury that happens immediately upon falling, on contact, or as the result of a collision (an acute injury)

Usually with an acute injury, you also have swelling, pain, and bruising or redness around the area. Sometimes when you have a lot of inflammation, the area can also feel warm to the touch. When these symptoms are present, it’s definitely an indication for ice. I usually don’t follow the textbook rules of 48-72 hours because people aren’t textbook at all.


I have had some patients with low back pain, knee pain, or neck pain with swelling well after that 72 hours. Especially with some of the extremity joints (knees, ankles, elbows), sometimes the edema (fluid) can take a little while to go down. The older a person is, certain medical conditions, activity/exercise, and severity of the trauma will also influence any inflammation.


Ice works to constrict the blood vessels, reducing the swelling in the area. I usually tell people to ice 10-15 minutes at a time (usually less if it’s a hand or foot that needs to be iced), making sure you have at least one layer between the skin and the cold source. I also advise people to not lay down on top of ice and if the area starts to get numb, that’s a pretty good indication to stop icing.


So, heat can be applied to those stiff and achy muscles. Heat works by dilating the blood vessels, bringing extra blood and oxygen to the area which can reduce muscle spasm. Some tips for using heat are the same as ice: 10-15 minutes with a layer between the skin and heat source. If it feels like it’s burning, time to stop. You want to make sure there are no signs of inflammation when applying heat as this can actually make it worse.


It is also possible to over-ice or over-heat, so unless someone is really severe, two to three times a day is good for most people. If anyone is ever unsure of what to do or for how much, I’m always happy to answer questions directly at my office so that we can assess exactly what’s going on. You can also contact your medical doctor. As with many health questions, it’s best to ask a health professional directly and get an assessment. The heat and icing tips I listed above are just simple guidelines to follow. Age, activity or exercise levels, injuries (past or present), and medical conditions are all important to factor in when deciding which is best for each individual.


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The application of heat or ice for pain is effective for reducing the inflammation of the area caused by injury and for relaxing the muscles from spasms. You do not have to fill the bath with ice cubes or hot water, but the application of ice causes narrowing of the blood vessels resulting in reducing the inflammation. Application of heat dilates the arteries and reduces muscle spasms. The application of ice and heat requires a patient to consult a doctor, as factors such as medical condition; age; gravity of injury, both past and present; and exercise levels determine the effectiveness.



Treatment and therapy of back pain, neck pain and headaches by Dr. Maryam Jafarieh chiropractic physician.




In this video, chiropractor Dr. James J. Schofield discusses when to used heat or ice for back pain.





lower back pain



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