(BeWellBuzz) For many of us that receive any form of injury the heat vs ice debate begins to rage almost immediately. The truth is that both treatments work in very much the same way. They can help to reduce pain, inflammation and improve blood flow to damaged tissues. Of course knowing that fact doesn’t really help, it still begs the question should I use heat or ice on my injury? In this article I intend to give a definitive answer to that perplexing question. The hope being that whenever you need to treat a future, or existing injury, you will know exactly what to do in order to get you back on the road to recovery.
How And When To Use Ice
If your injury is acute, that means it has occurred within the last two or three days, then you should use ice as your treatment of choice. Applying ice will help to limit the way your body reacts to the injury. This is achieved by helping to reduce swelling and inflammation, slowing any bleeding that occurs around the injury and also it helps to keep pain to a minimum.
Ice is also a great method for treating the long term injuries suffered by many athletes. By applying ice after (not before) any physical activity you can help to control any swelling or inflammation that you may experience. Ice is also ideal for those suffering with chronic conditions such as arthritis. It works in much the same way by helping to control pain and inflammation.
The use of an ice pack is regarded as the primary method for applying ice to an injury. Simply place a cloth over the injured area, this is to protect the area being treated, and then place an ice pack directly onto the cloth. This will initially cause sensations of coldness then burning, however the area will quickly start to feel numb. A treatment of around twenty minutes is advised every two or three hours.
How And When To Use Heat
Conversely heat treatment should be used for long term injuries to help increase blood flow and relax tissues around the affected area. It is important to remember that heat should only be used before any physical activity not after. It is also important to never use heat on an acute injury, in the long term this will do more harm than good.
Because they keep the area being treated from drying out, a hot damp towel is regarded as the best method of heat treatment. Wet the towel in hot water or heat in a microwave and place it directly on the area needing treatment, making sure not to apply any added pressure. This again should be done for a period of around twenty minutes. Other popular methods for applying heat to chronic injuries include heating pads, heating wraps and even a good old fashioned hot bath.
Using a combination of both heat and ice can be beneficial to an injury if used two to three days after the injury initially occurred. By using both heat and ice treatments alternatively (for approx 10 mins each), you can increase blood flow with the heat and help reduce inflammation with the ice. It is important to remember when using this combination treatment to always end with the ice, finishing with heat may actually contribute to swelling and inflammation.
So there we have it, I hope what you have discovered here will help you to understand more thoroughly the heat vs ice debate. In doing so, you give yourself a much greater chance of receiving the correct treatment and making a full recovery. However it is also important to be aware that although the use of heat and ice can greatly contribute to the healing process they are not necessarily considered to be the long term solution.
In certain cases a full recovery from an injury may require some form of physical therapy or exercise regime. Whenever you do suffer with any form of injury it is always advisable to seek the opinion of a medical professional. They are best placed to advise you on the best method of treatment and can quickly help you on the road to a full recovery.