Should you use ice or heat on your injury?

Ice packs and heat pads are commonly used when treating an injury – however, when misused, they have the potential to do more harm than good.

Generally, ice is used for acute injury or pain, as well as swelling and inflammation. If your injury is only a couple of days old, ice is often the best treatment option.

Heat, on the other hand, is best used for muscle pain and stiffness, as well as chronic injuries.

Using ice treatment

According to the experts at House Call Doctor, ice packs can help minimise swelling and reduce bruising on new injuries. Ice baths are best used for overuse injury in athletes after activity.

Ice packs can be purchased or made with ice cubes in a tea towel or even a bag of frozen peas.

Ice should never be placed directly on an injury and should be moved regularly to avoid ice burns. Remove ice from an injury after thirty minutes or if the skinchanges colour to bright pink or red.

Avoid using ice on your neck and back, unless you are certain you’ve sustained an acute injury.

Do not use ice before physical activity, if you are cold, if you have a nerve issue or diabetes, or on your left shoulder if you have a heart condition.

Using heat treatment

Heat treatment relaxes and loosens tissues and stimulates blood flow, making it the perfect treatment for chronic injuries.

Overuse injuries can also be treated before exercise with heat. Heating can be achieved with a heating pad or a hot, wet towel.

Heating pads should not be used while sleeping or while experiencing fever-like symptoms.

Avoid burns! Be careful not to use a treatment that is too hot.

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