It’s common knowledge that cold and heat therapy is recommended to help heal injuries. But, what many people are less sure of is when to use cold therapy and when to use heat therapy. While the answer can differ from case to case, there are guidelines that you can follow to ensure that you’re taking the best possible care of your injury.
When To Use Cold Compression
Cold compression is usually most effectively used for acute injuries. In the first few days after the injury occurs, cold compression can help reduce inflammation and pain. Ice can also help manage inflammation and pain for chronic injuries. After activities that cause a chronic injury to flare up, using a cold compress can help you manage the injury and prevent it from swelling.
It’s also important to note that cold compression is only beneficial if you use it properly. Apply the ice for no longer than 20 minutes at once. Place a thin rag or towel in between the compress and your skin to prevent damage to your skin.
When To Use Heat Therapy
While a cold compress stops inflammation and reduces pain, heat therapy boosts circulation. It’s particularly helpful for reducing muscle soreness and joint pain. Using heat before physical activity can also help athletes manage chronic injuries. By increasing blood flow and mobility, the heat can prevent further damage to the tissues during physical activity.
That said, heat shouldn’t be used in every case. After physical activity, ice is more beneficial than heat, as it can ease inflammation triggered by the activity. Additionally, following the onset of an acute injury, heat should be avoided, as it could worsen the inflammation.
For expert chiropractic care and guidance for your injury, schedule an appointment with the Florida Spine & Injury Institute of Lakeland.