Regardless of their specific types, injuries are generally painful - and you want to treat them in the best way possible to speed your healing and fully recover. So you may ask yourself: should I treat my injury with heat therapy or cold therapy? How can I best relieve my pain? Here are 3 tips to help you pick the best option for your injury.
1. Identify the source of your pain. It's important to know whether or not you have injured a muscle, or if your injury is more arthritis-related. There is a difference between a strain or a sprain and even tendinitis and tendinosis. Or perhaps you suffer from headaches or muscle spasms, and want to know whether hot or cold therapy will help to alleviate your symptoms.
2. RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). The acronym for RICE is very common among athletes. This little phrase allows you to take first steps in taking care of your injury. The steps aretypically used for muscle strains, ligament sprains, bruises, and other injuries, and are most effective when implemented immediately following an injury for the first 24 to 48 hours.
3. Learn whether you really need hot or cold therapy. If you are treating arthritis, then the answer would be hot. Moist heat helps to ease chronic stiffness in joints and relaxes muscles. If you suffer from headaches, ice can numb the pain, and if your headaches are caused by muscle spasms - moist heat can relax them. With strains and sprains, it's good to use ice initially to help reduce redness, swelling, or tenderness. The use of heat, after the pain and swelling have gone down, is beneficial to ease stiffness.
Basically, you want to use ice for acute conditions, because it helps to numb pain, while also reducing swelling, inflammation, and bruising. You want to use heat for injuries that occurred more than 6 weeks ago, because heat increases blood flow - which helps aching joints and tight muscles.
To learn more about taking care of yourself and treating your injuries, please contact us.