Cold therapy and heat therapy have both been used for centuries to help treat everything from injuries to muscle stiffness.
Whether you use ice or heat for pain depends on what is causing the pain. Neither is ideal for all types of pain. Each form of treatment has its own uses. The two can also be alternated as well.
It’s simply not possible to get through life without tearing a ligament, straining a muscle, suffering from knee pain, being injured in some way, suffering a headache, etc. When experiencing any type of pain, it’s important to know whether heat, ice, or a combination of both would provide the relief you need.
For injuries, ice treatments usually win out – especially if there is inflammation involved. The cold temperature reduces the amount of blood flowing to the injured area and helps bring down the swelling.
Products include icy gel packs, Vapocoolant sprays, ice baths, Cryocuff machines, etc.
Also called thermotherapy, this type of treatment comes in many forms: hot cloth, saunas, electric heating units, FIR heat therapy wraps, heating blankets, and pads. Heating pads are the most commonly used products, as they are easy to use, affordable and convenient.
Heat treatment can be applied as dry heat or moist heat.
Whether you use ice therapy or heat therapy, you don’t want to overdo it. It’s normal for your skin to look a little red after using either type of therapy. However, you need to rest and let the redness go away before you applying a new ice pack or reusing the electrical heat pack or blanket. Also, as warm and comfortable as it might be at first, never fall asleep with a heating blanket on.
Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following after using ice or heat treatment(s): swelling, hives, blisters, or a dark red colour that won’t go away, even after you stopped the treatment.