If you’ve ever pulled a muscle or thrown out your back, you know that the pain can be immense or even debilitating. No matter how careful you are, it is inevitable that, at some point in your life, you will suffer from some sort of pain. This may be due to athletic overexertion or something milder, such as a headache or arthritis. No matter what the cause of your pain, you need to find relief from it in order to make it bearable. A common question that we are often asked is: “should you use ice or heat for treating pain?” However, it really depends on the type of injury. Read on to find out whether you should choose hot or cold in order to bring yourself some much-needed relief.
Pulled Muscles, Strains, or Sprains
For sports-related injuries such as sprains and strains, the first course of action should be to go for ice. It can help to reduce inflammation, such as swelling and tenderness, and numb the pain at the same time. Once the inflammation has subsided, switch out the ice for heat in order to treat stiffness, which may last for several days.
Headaches can come in a variety of forms, but they are usually related to nerves or blood vessels in the head or muscles in the neck and shoulders. If you have throbbing pain in your head, apply ice to help numb it. If you suspect that your headache is the result of neck or back pain, use heat to relax the muscles. This may help to reduce the tension and pain that you feel in your head.
For chronic arthritic pain, moist heat is the best option. It helps to reduce stiffness in your joints and relax the tight muscles that are causing you pain. Switching between heat and ice can help to promote circulation and reduce inflammation in the areas that are causing you problems.
If you have gout and you are suffering from a flare-up, ice will help to numb the pain and reduce any associated swelling. Ice will work in any affected area, including the big toe, ankle, heel, knee, wrist, and elbow.
Tendinitis causes pain in your tendons when you participate in certain activities. Generally, you’ll feel it in your shoulders, knees, elbows, wrists, or heels. Your best bet is to use ice in order to reduce inflammation and to keep pain levels down.
Ice vs Heat
For most of these conditions, you can switch off between cold and hot treatment in order to promote healthy circulation. However, there is a reason why ice works for young injuries and why heat is better for chronic conditions. Ice helps to constrict blood vessels, which reduces blood flow and numbs pain in the affected region. It also reduces inflammation and helps to ensure that your condition won’t get worse. Heat, on the other hand, increases the blood flow to the specific areas, which relaxes tight muscles and promotes mobility. Movement prevents stiffness and allows your muscles to heal faster.
If you are using ice or heat to deal with pain, make sure that you do so safely. Wrap ice packs with a towel and make sure that heated items are not dangerously hot. Additionally, chiropractic care is a great method to reduce pain. To learn about more options for pain management, make an appointment with Clarksville Physical Medicine today!