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Heat or Ice: Which Is Better?

By Sara Butler

Everyone knows that when you hurt yourself, you should apply ice to the injured area. Or ... you should apply heat, right? Wait, what? Which one?

Aches and pains happen, as do injuries. When you find yourself in a position in which you need to treat what's bothering you before you can make it to see the chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic, it's important to know when to use heat and when to use ice. Here's a quick rundown of what each option can do for you and the best times to apply it from the chiropractors at The Joint.

The Rule of Thumb

In general, ice is best for injuries that have happened recently, as in the last six weeks. Heat, on the other hand, is best used for injuries that occurred over six weeks ago.

The reason? Ice helps to control pain and swelling because it constricts the blood vessels and reduce inflammation. That is precisely what your body needs when you're attending to a relatively new injury. Heat works to relax tight muscles and actually increases the flow of blood to the area, helping to soothe aching joints in the process.

If you use heat on an injury that is too recent, then you risk inflaming the injury even further and making the condition worse. That's why if you're not sure if heat or ice is best for an injury you're attending to, then you should contact the chiropractor at The Joint for help.

The Heat is On

Heat is a great natural treatment for aches and pains. It tends to work best for pain and discomfort related to:

  • Tendinosis
  • Arthritis
  • Relief of stiff muscles
  • Headaches with the root cause of muscle spasms in the neck
  • Muscle spasms

You should apply heat for about 20 minutes at a time. Make sure to take a break of at least 20 minutes between the heating sessions or if the heat becomes uncomfortable.

Ice It Out

Ice is a wonderful way to naturally treat aches and pains associated with new injuries as well as:

  • Sports injuries
  • Flare-ups of gout
  • Sprains and strains
  • Headaches
  • Tendonitis

Ice can be applied in several forms, from an ice pack you keep in your freezer to a bag of frozen peas. You simply need something cold that can form to the area you wish to ice. Make sure to place a cloth between your skin and the ice. Also, remove it if it starts to become uncomfortable and only apply for 20 minutes at a time.

Put heat and ice to work for you, but also make sure you get into The Joint Chiropractic to have the pain treated.

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

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