PT 360 March 2019


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F ire and I ce W hen S hould Y ou H eat or I ce an I njury ?

When it comes to relieving pain, everyone has an opinion. Your mommight suggest taking pills and a nap, while your neighbor swears it’s best to walk it off. Meanwhile, yearly advancements offer more options—and opinions— for patients seeking relief. Among the plethora of available treatments, two remain constant —heat and ice. However, many people don’t knowwhich to use, and unfortunately, the wrong decision canmake your pain or injury worse. If you are unsure which method is best for you, here’s the answer to your heating or icing dilemma. Heat: These treatments can come in several forms, such as creams, pads, and wraps. Many medical professionals suggest using heat treatment for 30 minutes to four hours, depending on what is needed to fully relax the muscle. Heat often works best for chronic pain because it supports blood flow and loosens your

decreases swelling. This is the opposite of the muscle relaxation you need for chronic pain relief. Eventually, heating treatments can be worked into a healing plan, but ice is a quick solution to a small problem. As withmost treatments, what works for one personmay not work for another. If icing an injury feels best for you and you see improvement, continue icing away your pain. Additionally, some patients find relief while rotating between cooling and heating. Regardless of your preferred method, it’s best to seek professional guidance in order to find a viable long-term solution.

muscles. Heat treatments can also be used to relieve stress and tension, but you should never use heat on an open wound or fresh injury. Ice: Cooling treatments can also be found in creamor wrap form, but a bag of peas or ice from your freezer will work just as well. Ice should be used for short periods throughout the day. Icing treatments are best for bruised wounds andminor injuries because the cold can reduce the swelling in your blood vessels— the cause of bruising—and expedite your healing process. However, icing your chronic pain can be detrimental due to the stiffening reaction that

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