Hot or Cold – Which is best?
Treating different kinds of pain with hot or cold methods can be extremely effective for a number of different conditions and injuries.
The part that is tricky, is knowing which situations are best when in need of applying heat or cold for treatment.
for muscular pain or stiffness
acute injuries or pain, particularly with inflammation or swelling on affected areas
|How does it work?
|Heat improves circulation to allow blood flow to soothe discomfort, heal damaged tissue and increase muscle flexibility.
|Mostly known as cryotherapy, it serves to reduce blood flow to specific areas that can significantly reduce swelling, inflammation, and nerve activity that is causing the pain (especially for joints or tendons).
|What are the types?
|Dry Heat (aka conducted heat) which includes heating pads, dry heating packs or saunas.
Moist Heat (aka convection heat) includes steamed towels, hot baths, etc. This is more effective as it requires less application time for the same result.
|– Ice packs/ frozen gel packs
– Coolant sprays
– Ice baths
– Cryokinetics (combination of cold treatment with active exercises)
|When to avoid
|– Bruised, swollen (or both) areas or open wounds
– Decreased sensation or pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes, dermatitis, vascular disease, deep vein thrombosis, multiple sclerosis
– Consult first with your doctor if you have the following – pregnant, heart disease, hypertension.
|– Decreased sensation (& related disorders) – unable to differentiate hot/cold
– Poor blood circulation
– Restricted, stiff joints or muscles
How to use it effectively:
- Apply for a good amount of time
- Minor stiffness or tension often is relieved within 15 to 20 minutes.
- Moderate to severe sessions (warm bath), can last between 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Use an extra towel to wrap around the ice pack and apply to the affected area.
- Never place the ice pack directly on the skin as it may cause damage to the skin/tissue.
- Ice immediately for acute injuries
- Use in moderation – 10 to 15 minutes for short periods of time, several times a day combined with elevation of injured area
If either or both treatments render the discomfort or pain is worse in the affected area, STOP IMMEDIATELY and consult your doctor or physiotherapist for further medical and treatment advice.
BY: Alice Chiang
6. Clinic Announcement