Hot or Cold for Pain?

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Hot or Cold for Pain?

Hot vs Cold

Soreness, muscle pain and sprains are common during exercise and physical activity. The quickest way to feel some relief is with either a hot or cold compress. But which one should be used and for what type of injury?

Acute Injuries

An acute injury typically comes on rapidly. Usually coming from some sort of trauma caused by a fall, a direct hit to an area, or bending or twisting the wrong way. RICE is an abbreviation for, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation, which are the steps to use to treat an acute injury.

Rest is typically the most important part to treat an acute injury. It helps protect your body from any further injury to the area and will help reduce pain and swelling.

Ice is very beneficial to reducing inflammation and pain as well. You should apply ice to the area as soon as the injury occurs. Continue icing for 20 minuets and then in intervals every 4 to 8 hours after for another 20 minutes.

Compression helps reduce swelling in the area needing treatment. Unfortunately, swelling is sometimes inevitable, but by compressing the area this will reduce some additional swelling and slow blood flow.

Elevation reduces pressure of the blood being pumped to the injured area. This is used to reduce swelling in the area and by holding the injury higher will allow gravity to assist the blood to return.

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain does not affect you as directly as acute pain does. This type of injury tends to gradually build over a certain amount of days and the pain gets worse. Typically, the cause of a chronic injury is by overusing a muscle but could also be caused by an untreated acute injury as well.

Applying a heat compress to the area for 15 to 20 minutes can alleviate chronic pain. You can do this by using either a heating pad, heat rub, hot water bottle, damp towel, or warm towel. The reason you want to use heat is because it will help soothe aching and sore muscles. This helps relax the area and increase blood flow to the injury. It also helps with elasticity in tendons and ligaments.

It is recommended to apply heat to a chronic injury before you try strenuous activity. For either acute or chronic injuries, it is best to have your doctor examine you.

As a patient at McKolosky Chiropractic we will personally tailor a chiropractic and wellness program specifically targeted to your needs using the least invasive, yet highly effective techniques and services. We can help you with any acute or chronic pain you sustain or suffer from. Give our office a call today to schedule an appointment.

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