Ever wondered whether you should use ice or heat on your body? Simply understand which each one does and how time is the factor!

The difference between cold and hot is what it does to the surrounding tissue.  Applying ice will cause a constriction of blood vessels which reduces blood flow and will help to decrease swelling or inflammation.  The ice also has an analgesic effect which can help reduce pain.  Therefore, when needing to reduce swelling or treat an acute injury (first couple of days) ice is recommended.  For sudden injuries like this, the protocol of “RICE” applies: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. This protocol is designed to reduce inflammation to the area and prevent further damage from occurring.  

Use ICE when:

– the injury just happened

– to control pain and reduce reactive swelling

– use ice for 10 mins on, 20 mins off for up to 6 hours 

Heat, on the other hand, can be helpful for chronic injuries or nagging aches and pains. Heat will increase blood flow which helps to bring in healing factors and soothe muscle and joint pain.  Conditions that respond well to heat are arthritic joint pain, chronic muscle tension, overuse injuries, and general body discomfort.

Use HEAT when:

– The injury didn’t happen in the last couple of days

– To increase blood flow and speed healing

– use heat for 10 min on, 10 min off, and repeat

Heat will speed up your healing, but it doesn’t work on its own to heal you.  Be an active participant in your health (i.e.  treatment, rehab, home exercise plan, lots of water) you can speed up healing and help prevent a similar injury from happening again. 

Each person is different and may not react the same to self-treatment. If you have any injuries or pains that you have questions about please contact us to see what the next steps towards your healing might be – call 604.988.7080 or book online at www.fih.janeapp.com; Dr. Aleem Remtulla