Wednesday, August 25, 2010

When should I put ice or heat?

That is a question that I am often ask. Should I put ice or heat, and it seems that everybody has is own theory on the subject.

Let's start with ice. Ice is used to decrease swelling and pain after an injury. It is one of the easiest and cheapest way for pain relief. Ice is used for acute injury(sudden onset of symptom) for the first 48-72 hours after the onset of pain. You could apply it even longer than that if there is still swelling on the site of the injury. Ice is also used after the activity, for chronic recurrent overuse injury. Never put ice before doing an activity. For ice bag, you can use crushed ice in a ziploc bag, or the gel ice pack, or even a bag of frozen peas. Always wrap the ice bag with a wet towel, and apply it to the injured body part, for 10-15min., no more than that. Wait at least an hour and you can put ice again. You should put it, at least 4 time a day, to be effective.

Heat is applied for chronic injury that has no inflammation. We usually put heat on sore, stiff muscle pain, to relax the tight muscle. You can use a heating pad, or the gel pack that goes in the micro-wave, for 15 min, again wrapping the heat source with a damp towel. Never use heat when there is inflammation. In doubt, put ice, since you will never worsened your condition with it. But if you put heat on an inflame joint, even if it feels good will doing it, in an hour or so, you will be worse. So here is a quick recap:     

Ice:  Acute
        Recurrent chronic overuse injury
        Decrease swelling and pain
        At least 4 time a day
        After the activity,  never before
        Never directly on the skin

Heat: Chronic injury with no inflammation
         Sore, stiff muscle pain
         To relax tight muscle
         15 min.
         Never put heat after an exercise
         Never directly on the skin

No comments:

Post a Comment