Our blog on clinic news, therapies, conditions and best practices
Over the 30+ years I have worked as a physiotherapist, patients have asked me a number of questions that I would like to answer in our upcoming newsletters. The first question I would like to address is:
Should I use heat or ice?
A general rule is: Apply ice within the first 48 hours following a new injury, to reduce swelling and inflammation.
After that, it mostly depends on what works best for you. Some people prefer heat, some prefer ice, and some like to go between heat and ice.
Here is how you make your decision. When applying ice, the first few minutes are usually uncomfortable. If after that the area starts to feel numb, then ice is the right choice. If instead it starts to ache, then switch to heat. A similar rule applies to heat, in reverse. Heat is usually comfortable at first. As the area warms up, if it feels better then heat is the right choice. If instead it starts to ache, then switch to ice.
If both heat and ice make the area feel better, then you can go back and forth between the two.
When applying ice you can use a wet towel over the ice pack to make the area cool down faster, or a dry towel if you are very sensitive to cold. Do not apply ice or an icepack directly to the skin. Ice is usually applied for 10-15 minutes at a time.
Heat is usually applied for 15-20 minutes at a time. A damp or dry towel can be used over a heated gel pack as well. A hot water bottle or grain-filled fabric bag can also be used for heat.
The most convenient ice packs are the gel-filled ice packs available at our clinic for $8.50 + tax. These can also be heated in the microwave. Frozen peas or corn or crushed ice in a towel can also be used instead of ice.
If you have any further questions regarding the use of heat or ice or how you should manage your injury, please call me at Healthview and I would be happy to return your call.
Healthview Therapy Centre