Should You Use Cold Compression Or Heat On An Injury?

Published March 23rd, 2021 by Dr. Markson

It’s a question we commonly hear — how do I know if I should use heat or ice for an injury? It all depends on the type of injury and the timing of treatment. Here’s what you need to know.

Type of Injury

Before choosing between heat or ice therapy, you have to consider if the injury is chronic or acute. An acute injury is one that recently occurred (last 48 hours) and is usually the result of sudden trauma, such as from a fall or a collision. Symptoms and signs of an acute injury may include redness, tenderness, pain, swelling, and warm skin. A chronic injury usually develops slowly because a part of the body is being overused or a chronic injury hasn’t healed properly. Chronic injury pain may not be constant, but it can come and go in the form of soreness or dull pain.

Heat or Ice Therapy

Ice therapy or cold compression is recommended for acute injuries. It is especially helpful for controlling pain and reducing swelling. Ice is most effective when it is applied early and often for the first 48 hours after an injury.

Heat on an injury, on the other hand, raises skin temperature and increases circulation so it shouldn’t be applied to injuries that show signs of inflammation or acute injuries. Heat is excellent for sore muscles and joint pain, which are typical of chronic injuries.

Heat may be best for chronic injuries, but timing is also important. Athletes with chronic injuries should apply heat before exercise to stimulate blood flow to the area and increase flexibility. After exercise, ice is the better choice for a chronic injury as it discourages the onset of swelling and pain.

See Your Local South Florida Chiropractor

Knowledge of at-home remedies can help you find temporary relief, but after sustaining an injury, it’s best to see your chiropractor. At Markson Chiropractic, our doctors are experts in treating the root cause of your acute or chronic pain to help your body heal. If you are in pain and are interested in chiropractic care to help you find relief, click here to contact us.

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