In pain and not sure if you should grab the ice pack or heating pad? You’re not alone. That simple question on Google currently yields 24 million results.
So, which is it? The general recommendation is to use ice for the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury, which will help reduce swelling. Then, use heat to loosen muscles and improve stiffness.
What does ice do for an injury? It slows the nerve impulses by interrupting the pain-spasm reaction between nerves. It also helps numb sore tissues, providing relief like a local anesthetic. Ice can also reduce damage to tissues, reducing swelling and slowing the inflammation after the injury.
What does heat do for an injury? Heat loosens the muscles and improve stiffness. Heat may be applied with warm showers, hot compresses, or a heating pad.
Whether it’s cold or heat you’re applying to an injury, keep it on for only about 20 minutes at a time, then leave off for at least 40 minutes. Never put the ice or heat source directly against your skin- wrap it in a towel to prevent a burn.
For acute pain relief, visit your chiropractor to address the source of the issue. X-rays will give insight to whether the issue is a disc or muscle ligament issue, then regular adjustments will help you stay out of pain.