This week's question -
Should I use ice or heat for my injuries?
My answer -
For those of you who haven't asked me this in person before, or attended my webinar on modalities, hold on to your hats because I am about to blow your mind. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT ICE REDUCES INFLAMMATION. Read that again. I know this is something that has been said for many years "ice it to control swelling or decrease inflammation." As a young clinician, I said it myself. However, there is no actual evidence to say this happens. There is evidence that ice reduces pain temporarily. Therefore, when you have an acute injury (something that just happened) or an injury that is very painful, ice can help to reduce that pain. Reducing the pain in the short term can help allow you to do things (mobility work, strengthening) that will reduce the pain in the long term. Notice I am not saying there is no use for ice, but if you are 3 weeks out from a minor ankle sprain, back to all activities without pain you likely no longer need to ice unless you are an eskimo and you enjoy it.
Heat can help to relax tense muscles and relieve pain in the short term as well, and generally feels better for most people. It also enhances blood flow while ice restricts it, creating a better environment for healing.
Therefore largely I am going to recommend heat over ice for injuries that are not very acutely painful. Yet, it is still important you get to the bottom cause and find a long term solution, rather than just numbing the pain.
If you have been exclusively icing/heating an area and not searching for the cause, call me today for a free consultation. 973-556-8465
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