I have a lot of patients ask the age old question, “should I be using ice or heat?” Well, here’s a quick guide explaining when and why to use each:
Cold therapy is used for recent injuries to reduce pain and swelling. This is typically during the first 24-48 hours after an injury. Basically, if the area is hot and swollen, use ice. And be careful never to ice too long…a good rule of thumb is 10 minutes on 10 minutes off (and never apply directly to the skin). Also always consult with your chiropractor or other health professionals when dealing with a new injury.
Heat is used to loosen muscles, reduce muscle spasm, and relieve tension. Heat can be in the form of a heating pad or topical pain reliever (such as Biofreeze or Rocksauce). Again, be careful when utilizing heat as it is possible to burn the skin if the heating pad is too hot. Do not apply any topical pain reliever to open wounds or areas of skin irritation.