Dr. Robin Ellsworth
A common question people have who are confused about when to apply heat or ice to an injury.
Basic rule of thumb? Ice is for injuries, Heat is for muscles.
Ice is used to reduce pain, redness and inflammation following an injury, such as a sprain, strain or other soft-tissue injury.
It’s generally advised that you apply ice for 20-minute periods, four to six times in the first 48 hours following the injury. Do not apply the ice directly to the skin; place a cloth between the ice and your skin. Applying ice directly to the skin or using it more often than recommended can produce further damage.
Elevating the injured body part can speed healing.
Heat is used to help relieve muscle aches and pains — like stiff neck or lower back pain. Heat tends to calm down muscle spasms, allowing muscles to relax.
Remember that the temperature should be warm — not hot, as too much heat can increase inflammation and pain.
Moist heat or dry heat? Some people swear by steamed towels or hot tubs for pain relief, while others apply a heating pad and are just as satisfied. It really is your preference, although your health care provider can certainly provide a recommendation, depending on your circumstances.
Dr. Robin Ellsworth is a chiropractor at Ellsworth Chiropractic in Granite City. For information, visit www.facebook.com/ellsworthchiropractic.