Whether you’re experiencing chronic discomfort or an unfortunate sprain, it’s always good to know how to ease the pain from an injury. If both heating and icing can do wonders for injuries, how do you know when to use heat or cold for pain? This handy guide will tell you all you need to know about heating injuries and when to ice an injury.
Ice Ice Baby: When to Use Ice on an Injury Used to minimize swelling, reduce muscle spasms and pain. Generally, ice is used for acute injuries which are injuries brought on by high-intensity activity. These injuries can be quite sudden and severe and are characterized by sharp pain, swelling. Swelling and pain will occur after an acute injury as blood leaks into surrounding tissue from ruptured capillaries. Applying ice will constrict the blood vessels and reduce pain and swelling. How Should Ice be Applied to an Injury? Ice should never be applied directly to an injury and should be moved around regularly to avoid ice burns. Always wrap an ice pack in a towel before applying. Suppose you can’t find an ice pack, frozen foods or ice cubes wrapped in a cloth work well. Observe your injury, and if your skin starts to burn and turn red, remove the ice immediately. Never apply ice for longer than 30 minutes, and remember that ice should never be used before an activity. It’s Getting Hot in Here: The Lowdown on Heating Injuries First and foremost, you should never use heat on an acute injury. This will only make things worse. Heat is best applied to chronic injuries to relieve pain and tension. Unlike acute injuries, chronic injuries develop slowly and result from overusing the affected area. They can also be the result of worsening acute injuries that aren’t properly treated to start with. These include stiff, painful muscles and dull aches and pains. Here’s where heat works well. Applying heat to chronic injuries will help to relax and ease stiff muscles. Heating an injury essentially does the opposite of icing, promoting healthy blood flow to the affected area. However, always seek professional care if your chronic injury bothers you, even with heat treatment. How Should Heat be Applied to an Injury? As always, take caution when applying heat to an injury. Heat can be applied using a heating pad or a towel soaked in hot water. Never apply heat to broken or damaged skin, and never leave the heat source on for more than 30 minutes or without carefully monitoring the injury to avoid burns. Always Take Care Whether you’re icing or heating injuries, it’s important to remember that both of these should form part of a larger treatment plan. You should always rest your injury as much as possible before resuming any activity, or the injury might get worse. If the pain is worsening despite resting, icing, or heating, seek medical attention. Also, please speak to a trusted medical professional about whether or not it’s safe to take any anti-inflammatory medication. If you’re looking for a trusted medical expert to help you deal with strains and pains, the Northgate Physiotherapy, Chiropractic and Massage Therapy Centre offers a variety of pain management solutions. For the best pain management and injury treatment in Calgary, get in touch today.