Heat or Ice?

When becoming a new patient at Denison Chiropractic, there are so many questions that people ask. What can I expect for the flow of my visit? Are there things I can do at home to help? One of the most asked questions is whether they should use heat or ice. There are different answers for that question.

Heat therapy

Heat therapy works by improving circulation and blood flow to a particular area due to increased temperature. Increasing the temperature of the afflicted area even slightly can soothe discomfort and increase muscle flexibility. Heat can relax and soothe muscles and heal damaged tissue. Heat therapy can include a heating pad, dry heating packs, hot bath, steamed towel and saunas.

There are certain cases where heat should not be used. If the area is either bruised or swollen (or both), it may be better to use cold therapy. Heat therapy also shouldn’t be applied to an area with an open wound.

Using heat instead of ice is also different based on the amount of time. With heat you are not as limited to how long you can use it, unlike ice.

Cold therapy

Cold therapy works by reducing blood flow to a particular area, which can significantly reduce inflammation and swelling that causes pain, especially around a joint or a tendon. It can temporarily reduce nerve activity, which can also relieve pain. Types of cold therapy are ice packs, coolant sprays, ice massage, ice baths and cryotherapy.

In certain cases, cold therapy could actually be bad for your body. If you have sore muscles from a workout, have bad circulation or have a sensory disorder you should not use cold.

Use cold therapy for short periods of time, several times a day. Ten to 15 minutes is fine, and no more than 20 minutes of cold therapy should be used at a time to prevent nerve, tissue, and skin damage. You can elevate the affected area for best results. You also should never directly put ice on your skin or it can cause more damage than help.

If you have questions on which therapy you should use make sure to ask one of the doctors on your visit in.

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