At Perth Allied Health Clinic, we see people coming in with injuries of all types. Some of these may be traumatic (contact injury or slip/fall) or non-traumatic (postural-related, repetitive movements). Whenever someone visits with one of these injuries, our team of Chiropractors, Physiotherapists and Massage Therapists are usually asked the same question… Should I use ice or heat to help me??
Understanding how and when to use ice and heat for your injuries is one of the most important things you can file in your mental filing cabinet. Here is the breakdown of when ice is going to be best or when you should put some heat on it.
Ice: When you should use it
When you have sustained an injury such as a fall or slip, sprained ankle, or hit during a sporting event, then these traumatic injuries are when you should probably apply ice to your injury. Ice is best used in situations where inflammation control and management are important to reduce tissue damage and manage pain levels. The earlier intervention of ice to the injury the better and this is best done within the first 24 hours. Apply ice for 15 minutes, remove for 20-30 minutes and this process can be repeated. If you feel a numbness, this is a good thing as this helps reduce pain levels.
Ice can also be used to help with managing throbbing headaches, gout flare-ups and tendonitis (shoulders, knees, elbow, and wrist).
Heat: When you should use it
Heat should usually be applied to longer term injuries; however, caution is to be undertaken as if used incorrectly, heat can cause more inflammation. Heat works to open blood vessels to an area to relax muscular tension, this enables the muscle to stretch and move more freely without as much tension. Moist heat is our best recommendation and can be done through a hot water bottle or using a heat pack with a cup of water placed in with it when heating. Heat is often used best for arthritis, headaches from muscular spasm, muscle tension and stiffness.
Pro tip: Use a heat pack after your chiropractic adjustment to help you feel amazing!!
When the pain is not approving
If you have been trying ice or heat with no relief or have more questions, speak to your health practitioner at your next visit or give the clinic a call to discuss what other methods you can use to help support your body healing.