So we hear it all the time: What is better, Ice or Heat? Chiropractors or any medical professional can give advice all the time on whether to ice or heat an injury but do you know what to do? Well, let us go over a few tips for your future aches and pains. It is important to know the difference when to use ice/cold and when to use heat.
ICE: Make sure to ice when you have an acute injury or new injury. An injury like this would be a sprain/strain type of injury, which can causes inflammation and swelling. You should try to ice the involved area for no more than 20 minutes every few hours. We do not want you to sleep on ice because it can cause damage to your skin and nerves. Direct skin contact is also not appropriate so make sure to put it over clothing or wrap ice in a towel. The reason we want you to ice an area after an acute injury especially if there is swelling is because icing will help constrict the blood vessels to reduce the swelling and pain. The sooner, the better for icing an injury and you want to ice for about 24-48-72 hours after the injury. If the swelling does not go do down with icing, then you need to consult a healthcare professional or primary care physician.
Try to remember RICE-rest, ice, compression, elevation or PRICES-protect, rest, ice compression, elevation, support when dealing with the first 48 to 72 hours after an acute injury. Seeing a healthcare professional is also recommended for follow up care and more specific instructions.
HEAT: Heat is generally used for more chronic issues, including muscle pain most of the time, unless it is an acute situation. Chronic issues usually tend to have not healed properly or enough and pain occurs more frequent and tender to be more achy or sore in feeling. Such things would be muscle soreness/pain, arthritis, and etc. Heat is used to dilate the blood vessels by expanding them allowing more blood flow to an area to help it heal better, plus it relaxes the muscles. Again, make sure to do this for only 20 minutes or less, along with using a towel or over a shirt so there is a lower chance of any burns or heat rashes. Remember not to fall asleep on the heat or heating pad because it can lead to burns, blisters, or other irritations. Ways of using heat would be the warm water of a shower or bath to help relax as well as with a hot towel, heating pad, or hot pack. However, please be aware that there are different scenarios that may call for other uses of heat and cold.
There are just some helpful reminders and quick tips to remember about ice and heat. Ice for an acute/new injury and heat for an old/chronic injury. The providers at Fletcher Chiropractic are thoroughly trained in caring for both acute and chronic injuries and know a little or a lot about ice and heat. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at 402-261-5766, visit us here at the website, or stop by our office!