Helpful Articles from Connect Chiropractic

When to use ice and heat?

ice heat relieves pain

When to use ice and heat?

This is a common question that we get asked in practice.  Ice and heat is an affordable and natural way to relieve pain, but there is a lot of confusion as to which one should be used and when. 

“Ice, Ice Baby”

Ice helps to numb pain and reduce inflammation (i.e. swelling, redness, heat) by decreasing blood flow to an injured area. 

Ice is recommended straight after an acute injury or a flare up of an old chronic one. 

Conditions where ice is applicable includes ligament sprains, muscle strains, overuse injuries, gout flare-ups, post falls, or after lifting and sporting injuries. 

Ice protocol is to apply for 10 minutes on the hour for the first 72 hours post injury, then reduced to 10 minutes, three times a day after that if necessary.  Ensure that a cloth or thin towel is always wrapped around the ice pack when using it on your skin to prevent a freezer burn. 

If in doubt, it’s better to choose ice over heat!

“The Heat Is On”

Heat increases blood flow which promotes muscle relaxation, reduces stiffness, increases range of motion and alleviates pain. 

Heat is great to loosen tight muscles and increase range of motion in stiff achy joints.  It is also helpful to use on the shoulders and neck when suffering from tension headaches, for osteoarthritis (in the absence of inflammation) and other chronic problems like low back and neck pain. 

Mild to moderate heat should be applied for 15 to 20 minutes.  Use a thin towel or wrap to provide protection between the skin and heat pack and avoid falling asleep with it.  Do NOT use heat on any area that is numb, bruised or swollen.  Using heat on an inflamed area can worsen your condition and slow down healing time.

Dr Nicole Hudson

Principal Chiropractor | Connect Chiropractic

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