This is a question that we get daily, should I use ice or heat? The main difference between ice vs heat comes down to physiology, ice is a vasoconstrictor and heat is a vasodilator. So, what does this mean for us?
Ice is a vasoconstrictor which means that it narrows blood vessels and decreases inflammation and swelling. Ice is best used when there is swelling in the area or if you are currently in pain. Ice should be applied directly to the area of swelling/pain. Typically the ice should not be in direct contact with the skin, so putting a wet washcloth or piece of clothing between the ice and you skin is the best option. For best results, wrap the ice around the area with an ace bandage or towel. Apply for 20 minutes then let 20-40 minutes pass allowing the skin to return to normal temperatures before reapplying. You can repeat this as many times as necessary but we recommended repeating 3-4 times a day until pain subsides.
Heat is a vasodilator which means that it widens blood vessels allowing an increase of blood flow to the affected area. If you feel tight, sore, achy, or stiff then heat is for you. Another situation best suited for heat is joint pain or arthritis, especially small joints of the hands. Heat allows tight muscles to relax and relieves muscle spasms by stimulating an increase in blood flow. Heat also increases elasticity of connective tissues of joints, hence why heat works well for stiff joints. For best result apply heat for 20 minutes then let 20-40 minutes pass allowing the skin to return to normal temperature before reapplying. You can repeat this as many times as necessary but we recommend repeating 3-4 times. Important: When using a heating pad make sure to not use or leave plugged in for over 20 minutes at a time, especially don’t use while going to sleep. Moist heat, like a hot moist towel, works best. Heating lotions like Biofreeze, Sombra, etc also work well.
Still have a Question?
Give us a call 949-470-4757 and leave your question for a Doctor who will get back to you as soon as possible. In pain and need help? Call 949-470-4757 for an appointment with one of our Doctors or visit www.southocchiropractic.com to schedule an appointment and learn more about our office.