We’ve all heard someone say, “Put ice on it!” or “Use a hot water bottle for back pain!” But how do you determine when it’s appropriate to use heat therapy verses cold therapy? Here at Core Products, we’ve broken down the facts on when to use heat therapy and when to use cold therapy so you can stop playing the guessing game.
We’ve eliminated the guessing with these specific tips for opting for heat verses cold therapy for injuries and pain.
When to use cold:
Cold therapy should be used mainly only to treat acute or new injuries, this includes traumatic incidents like falling or twisting a muscle, which are immediately painful. Cold therapy, such as our Vinyl Cold Pack Wipes, produce vasoconstriction- slowing circulation and reducing muscle pain. Injuries that include bleeding, inflammation, swelling and pain that needs to be controlled immediately, will experience relief with cold therapy. Cold therapy can be used to help relieve strains, sprains, headaches and other soft tissue injuries. Cold packs should be used for approximately 20 minutes at a time and reapplied every 1-3 hours. Following the first few days of cold therapy, you can begin to alternate between cold and heat to help increase blood flow to the affected area.
When to use heat:
Applying heat to pain or an injury helps to relax muscles by drawing blood to the targeted tissues. Heat therapy should be used for chronic injuries- those that are not suddenly onset. Warmth decreases muscle spasms, relaxes tense muscles, relieves pain and can increase range of motion. Warmth can provide relief for chronic pain including arthritis. Heat should be applied for about 15-20 minutes to increase blood flow and can also be used prior to exercise to increase flexibility.
The basic rules of thumb to remember are to use cold therapy for new injuries and heat therapy for chronic injuries and pain. Core Products offers a variety of options for both heat and cold therapy. We also offer moist heat therapy products- which many believe is more effective at warming tissues than dry heat.