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Ice or Heat? Which is Right for You

By Sara Butler

Injuries happen, so it’s best to be prepared to treat them when they do. One of the most effective ways to treat injuries, both old and new, is by utilizing heat and cold therapy. But which treatment is most effective for each situation? Understanding how and with what to treat injuries will aid in healing and help keep you healthy between your regular visits to the chiropractors at The Joint.

The Benefits of Heat

Applying heat to an injured area helps to increase blood flow. This can help with pain reduction and relax tight muscles that may be impacted by the injury. Heat is great for general aches and pains and can also be helpful to improve circulation to areas that are healing. But if the area is bruised or swollen, it’s important to avoid applying heat. It could make symptoms worse if used in the wrong situation -- and never use it on an open wound either.

The Benefits of Ice

Ice/cold therapy helps to restrict the flow of blood, helping to reduce inflammation. It’s useful for injuries that involve swelling or bruising and is great for sprains and strains. Make sure to apply ice immediately after an injury or as a part of ongoing rehabilitation after an injury. Just remember to apply ice for only a few minutes at a time since the cold can damage nerves and tissues if left on too long.

When to Use What

So, how do you know when you should use heat and when to use ice? In general, ice is best for sudden, acute pain and injury while heating pads are best for more chronic pain. Just keep in mind that every person and every situation is unique, so you will want to work with your chiropractor to understand which is best for you. They can offer helpful tips and tricks so you can get the most out of the heat and cold therapy.

The Risks

If you have an open wound that is bleeding or infected, you shouldn’t use ice or heat on it. Instead, seek medical attention. Also be aware that certain chronic health problems such as diabetes can make it dangerous to use ice and heat on injuries since you may not fully feel any damage you’re doing with the temperature extremes due to the disease. Same goes for anyone with poor circulation and cardiovascular disease. You also should never fall asleep with either heat or cold therapy being applied.

If you have questions, be sure to ask the chiropractors at The Joint today!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Fontana, Calif.

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