Injury treatment: Ice or Heat?
When to use Ice
Use ice if it’s within 5 minutes of the injury occurring. It should be used up to 48 hours after the injury.
If you can recall a mechanism for injury, use ice.
Tip: keep an icepack or frozen bag of peas in the freezer in case of an emergency. You could also use ice in a plastic bag.
- Wrap cold source in a tea towel or similar. Place this directly on to the skin above the injured area. Make sure clothing is removed from the affected area.
- With injuries that have just occurred, compress and elevate the area where possible.
- Leave on for 15-25 minutes depending on the area. Leave on for a longer time for deeper or bigger areas like the hips or lower back and less for more shallow areas like the neck and fingers.
- Remove and rest from the ice for as long as you applied it.
- Repeat until you have repeated the cycle 4 times.
- Use 2-3 times a day for up to 48 hours after the original injury.
When to use Heat
Heat is a very soothing therapy that can be used to ease tense muscles by improving circulation. Use heat when the issue has been around for more than 48 hours.
Do not use heat if there are altered sensations, pain, numbness or pins and needles running down the legs or arms.
- Heat wheat pack or similar item according to instructions.
- Wrap heat source in tea towel or similar or by itself over clothing.
- Leave on for 20 minutes.
- Further repeats are not necessary.
NB: Do not use heat or cold therapy if you cannot feel the difference between hot and cold, like in the case of nerve damage.
In the case of torticollis or “wry neck”, you can alternate between heat and cold as per the ice protocol except swap between the ice and heat sources.
If in doubt, use ice.
USING ICE AND HEAT CAN BURN YOU SO BE SURE TO REMOVE THE ICE/HEAT BEFORE ANY DAMAGE OCCURS.
Thanks again to Chirotherapy for this special guest post.