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Tips for using HEAT or ICE for pain – what works best for you!?!

Heat is used for helping:

  • Improve circulation –
  • Open up blood vessels,
  • Decreasing muscle spasm, cramping and tightness,
  • Alleviate pain and discomfort

When should I use heat?

  • Heat is very good for chronic conditions and deep aching type pain such as
    • Muscle spasm, cramping and tightness
    • Disc injury/bulge/prolapse
    • Lower Back Pain
    • Neck Pain
    • Period Pain
  • Heat helps reduce muscle tension and pain by increasing blood flow to the area and relax muscles that are in spasm. It also acts to remove lactic acid which is a toxin that causes the aching pain.
  • Heat can be applied locally with wheat pack/hot water bottle or can be achieved by increasing body temperature with a hot bath or shower or sauna.

Safety Tips for use of heat:

  • Take care that you protect yourself from direct contact to the skin with heating devices to avoid burns and to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Never use heat if you have no or minimal feeling in the affected body part
  • Do not use heat if you have poor circulation
  • Never use heat on an area that is swollen or bruised.

Cold therapy is used for helping:

  • Slow down blood flow to an injured body part
  • Decrease swelling,
  • Decrease inflammation and pain to injured area

Ice is an effective and natural pain killer and anti-inflammatory as it numbs the area and decreases blood supply to the damaged tissue and can decrease localized swelling.

Cold therapy is good for:

  • Migraines
  • Headaches
  • Sporting injuries which can include sprains, strains and bruises, or after slips and falls
  • Tendonitis
  • Bursitis
  • After minor burns apply cold running tap water for up to 20 minutes

When should I use cold/ice?

  •  Ice should be used in the acute or early stages of pain or injury to reduce swelling, inflammation and pain.
  • If something is red, hot, swollen and tender, with a sharp quality to the pain, this is a good indicator of when ice should be used.
  • Use ice in the first 24-36 hours of an injury, especially on your limbs!
  • Ice should be used 10 minutes on and off alternating for the first 40 minutes and then approximately at 2 hour intervals

Safety Tips for use of ice:

  • If using an ice pack, frozen peas or ice cubes, never place directly on the skin – always use a cloth between the ice and your body to prevent ice burn.
  • Avoid using ice if you have circulation problems and don’t use for more than 20 minutes at a time

Categories: General Information