Choosing Ice Or Heat
Ice and heat packs are probably the most commonly used self remedies for injury treatment. But there is often confusion about whether we should be icing or heating an injury. So which one should you use?
Ice is most commonly used for a recent injury (within the last 48-72 hours) particularly where swelling is a problem (eg sprained ankle). Applying an ice pack early and often after an injury will help minimize swelling, decrease pain and accelerate the healing process. Ice may also help relieve the pain and inflammation caused by after an aggravating activity in some chronic conditions (eg tennis elbow).
Heat is helpful for chronic conditions or injury that don’t have an acute inflammatory component. Heat helps to relax and loosen tissues, and to stimulate blood flow to the area. It is most commonly used to relieve muscle tension/spasm and joint stiffness associated with lower back and neck pain and arthritic conditions. Importantly heat should be avoided in the immediate 48-72 hours post injury.
If you are unsure which to use for your injury consult your physio for further direction on the best solution.