Generally, if you have constant pain, visible joint swelling, warmth, and/or have had an injury within the last 7-10 days, try ice. Cold helps pain and reduce inflammation by promoting the constriction of blood vessels, slowing cell reproduction and increasing cellular survival. It is good for injuries such as acute ankle sprains and knee injuries. If you suffer from muscle or joint stiffness, muscles spams, or chronic pain, try heat. Heat helps soothe stiff joints and relax muscles by increasing the extensibility of muscles and helps with healing by increasing blood flow to the area.
Using heat or cold on it’s own does not cure injury, however it complements self-care and other therapy. It’s simple, soothing and it forces you to sit or lie down and rest. Try an electric heating pad, a warm shower/bath, a gel pack that can be microwaved or frozen, or a bag of ice or frozen vegetables. Whether using hot or cold, wrap the pack in a pillow case or towel to help protect your skin. Apply for 15 minutes several times daily as needed. Don’t overdo it; allow your skin to return to its normal temperature before re-applying and avoid temperature extremes
For more information on management of injuries, ask us at Summit Sport Physiotherapy!