Differences Between Using Ice or Heat to Treat an Injury

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20:03 PM

When it comes to injuries and other orthopedic concerns, the two most commonly used treatments are applying ice and heat.


But did you know that you cannot use the two treatments interchangeably?


So which one is right for your injury? Ice or heat?


Read on to find out the answer.


Treating Injuries with Ice

In case of acute pain associated with injuries, RICE is the most commonly suggested treatment. It is a proven method to prevent further damage, so if you recently have had an injury that is causing inflammation, it is best to resort to the RICE method, including rest, ice, compression, and elevation.


With recent and acute injuries (within 48 hours), using ice treatment can help subside swelling. Once the swelling and inflammation in the region are controlled, it will significantly help control the pain.


Using ice may also be suitable for chronic conditions, particularly for athletes who often face injuries due to overuse of joints and muscles.


However, when using ice treatment, make sure you never apply an ice pack directly on the skin. Always wrap in a towel and apply it for a shorter period (10-15 minutes) several times a day. Moreover, if you are an athlete, never use ice treatment before a game; however, you can always resort to it following the sporting event.


In case the swelling doesn’t subside within 48 hours or increase over time, immediately contact your primary caregiver.  


Treating Injuries with Heat

On the other hand, heat treatment is used to relax and loosen up muscles and tissues and improve blood circulation in the region. So heat treatments are best for athletes preparing for a game of sports or individuals struggling with muscular spasms.


When using heat treatment, make sure you avoid it after an activity or immediately following an injury. Moreover, never use heat treatment where swelling is a concern. Since swelling results from bleeding in the tissue, heat treatment might worsen the condition as it improves blood circulation.


You can use a heating pad or a wet, hot towel as part of your heat treatment; however, you must always use moderate heat to avoid burning your skin. Never leave a heating pad or hot towel, especially while sleeping.    


As you continue to use ice or heat to treat an injury, know that each type of treatment is suitable for specific injuries and in certain conditions. If the pain persists or aggravates after using any of the two treatments, make sure you call a doctor or a licensed chiropractor. To find out more about our services, get in touch now.