Ice vs Heat: What’s best for pain relief?
Have you ever aggravated a knee injury on a morning jog? Rolled your ankle slightly when you miss the curb as you hurry to the office? It’s these innocent little day to day mishaps that can contribute to the overall wear and tear of your body. Left untreated, they can lead to significant pain down the track.
Immediate pain relief for little injuries like this can be treated effectively with ice or heat. But, which is the best course of action to support your body on the road to recovery — should you heat or ice an injury?
Ice vs heat
The ice versus heat debate for pain relief is loaded with misconceptions and contradictions. Although ice isn’t as comforting as applying heat to a sore spot; heating an injury can actually make your condition worse in some cases. Especially if you’ve just injured yourself.
Benefits of cold therapy
Ice causes tissues to contract, slows down circulation, and thereby reduces inflammation as it numbs the affected area.
How to ice to an injury
Apply an ice pack directly on the spine, or to the tender area, immediately after injury. Always cover the ice pack with a layer of paper towel, or thin cloth (like a tea towel). This prevents intense cold, and possible frost bite, to the skin.
Leave the ice on for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Apply the ice once every 1 to 1.5 hours when in pain or after an injury. Don’t leave it for longer than 20 minutes as it will increase the swelling.
To position yourself correctly, lie flat on the floor with your knees bent and place the ice under the affected region of your spine. If you are sore immediately after your postural exercises only use cold packs, never heat.
One heat pack exception
Moist heat (like a damp warm towel) may be used only when absolutely no inflammation exists. Moist heat packs can reduce overall stiffness of joints and muscles. However, never use dry heat packs or use heat on a new injury.
At Sydney Spine and Sports Clinic, we put you first. We believe in offering chiropractic care that enables you to make informed and educated choices about your health. If you are suffering pain and would like to talk to us about how we can help you get mobile and active again – get in touch right here.