Should I Use Ice or Heat for Pain?

Should you use heat or ice on your painful injury? The best method of solving this important riddle is to assess the nature and source of the pain. Essentially, a new injury, that is, one that you sustained within the last 48 hours, is best treated with ice. Chronic pain, or pain that you have had for a long time, is generally best treated with moist heat. Understanding the mechanisms of injury and the physiological and biochemical causes of pain helps us to differentiate the indications for applying ice or applying moist heat.

The primary rule is that you can never go wrong with applying ice. Ice calms things down and, although an ice application may be uncomfortably cold for a few moments, the overall effect is soothing. Cold decreases local metabolism and constricts small blood vessels (arterioles). Cold reduces nerve conduction velocity, that is, the speed at which nerve impulses are transmitted, and therefore reduces the number of pain signals that reach your brain per unit time. Thus, ice applications provide vasoconstriction, analgesia, and sedation. Ice is indicated for acute musculoskeletal injury, burns, insect bites, bleeding, and snake bites. Ice should not be used for gout, rheumatoid arthritis, Raynaud’s phenomenon, history of vascular impairment, and cold allergies. As well, ice should not be used for a patient in a coma.

Moist heat increases local metabolism and dilates small blood vessels. Vasodilation results in increased nutrition, increased activity of white blood cells (phagocytosis), and increased removal of waste (metabolic end-products and damaged cellular structures). Moist heat provides analgesia, sedation, and reduces muscle spasms. Heat is best for chronic pain and muscle spasms. Contraindications to moist heat include acute musculoskeletal injury, area of diminished sensation, acute skin conditions, pregnancy, malignancy, diabetes, encapsulated swelling, hemorrhagic disorders, and suppurative conditions.

Generally, ice applications are used for acute injuries within a 72-hour time frame from the onset of the injury. Acute injury damages local capillaries, causing blood to leak into the spaces between cells and tissues, where it doesn’t belong. Such uncontained blood causes pressure on local nerve endings, creating pain. Also, pressure is applied to nearby cells, causing extended injury and possibly cell death. Thus, limiting the amount of blood leaking out of disrupted capillaries is critical in slowing the effects and reducing the impact of musculoskeletal injury. Ice performs this function. Ice reduces swelling, reduces pain, and provides a sedative effect.

When applying ice, it’s very important to avoid damaging the skin. Ice packs should always be wrapped in a towel. Ice should rarely be applied directly to the skin. Duration and frequency of ice applications is not an exact science, but a useful guideline is to apply ice for 15 minutes every two hours for a moderately acute injury, using three to four ice applications per day. However, you will know instinctively when the time is right to apply the next ice pack.

Moist heat applications follow similar guidelines. Dry heat should never be used. Moist heat packs should be wrapped in a towel and are applied for 15 minutes every two to three hours, up to several applications per day.

Recovering from injury requires your body to put forth a great deal of effort and requires support from the nerve system, the body’s master system. Regular chiropractic care provides great assistance in the process of recovery from an injury. By detecting and correcting spinal misalignments and sources of nerve interference, regular chiropractic care helps ensure optimal functioning of the nerve system. Thus, regular chiropractic care helps facilitate your recovery and helps you return to your full range of activities as quickly as possible.

What to expect

At your first visit to Midlands Family Chiropractic, Dr. Matthew Boyeson will explain how chiropractic care works and give you a full evaluation to see if our chiropractic solutions are a good fit to address your needs. If there is a good fit, we can customize a plan of chiropractic care for your condition and health goals.

If you have not been to a chiropractor before and want to find out more, please contact us or call (803)-772-3300 to receive the answers to your questions from our experienced team. We also welcome referrals, so we invite you to share our chiropractic and wellness information with your friends and loved ones.

Studies show that consistency is all important

When you make routine chiropractic care a part of your lifestyle, you avoid many of the aches and pains that so many people suffer through, your joints will last longer, and you will be able to engage in more of the activities you love.

TESTIMONIAL

Excellent care, very thorough evaluation. Clean facility and friendly staff. Helped me to eliminate daily headaches and to better deal with my nerve pain in my leg.
Jessica J

“Dr. Matt has completely rid me of migraines and helped me with some pain I was having due to a varicose vein in my leg. He takes the time to explain everything in terms I can understand and never rushes through an appointment. He truly cares about his patients and it is apparent. So thankful I found him!”

Grace W.

Dr. Matt and Amanda are very friendly and knowledgeable professionals. They’re helping my wife with some knee and heel pain. She loves the pain relief she gets after her visits!

Mike W.

OPENING HOURS

Mon. and Fri. 9:00 – 6:00
Tues. Weds. Thurs. 1:00 – 7:00

  803.772.3300

OFFICE LOCATION

OUR VALUES

At Midlands Family Chiropractic our mission is to remove any unnecessary stress or tension and make you feel comfortable during your visit with our chiropractor.

Many seemingly unrelated symptoms often arise from imbalances in the spinal column, and Dr. Boyeson will be able to determine the root of the pain and create a personalized chiropractic and wellness plan to suit each patient’s individual needs. Under the supervision and care of our caring and skilled chiropractor, patients report higher functioning in all areas of their lives.

At Midlands Family Chiropractic, we will explain how chiropractic care works and give you a full evaluation to see if our chiropractic solutions are a good fit to address your needs. If there is a good fit, we can customize a plan of chiropractic care for your condition and health goals.

Midlands Family Chiropractic focuses on you as if it was our own family.

Make An Appointment

We’re here for you! Schedule an appointment anytime 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If the office is not open, leave us a message or an email. We will be in touch.

BOOK AN APPOINTMENT