How Hot and Cold Therapy Treats Pain and Injuries
By: Brian Acton
Hot and cold therapy can provide nearly instant relief to discomfort and problems caused by pain and injury. While hot and cold therapy has no miraculous healing power, it does provide relief to pain and discomfort, helping us move on from injuries and recuperate or recover more comfortably.
By doing so, ice and heat packs provide pain management and regenerative benefits that can help you keep moving!
Which form of therapy you use depends primarily on the nature of your issue.
Cold therapy – for instance, using cold packs or ice – is best for recent injuries that have caused pain, swelling, or inflammation. If you have just pulled a muscle or injured yourself, the body rapidly responds by becoming inflamed, which causes pain, redness, and swelling. This is a natural response to injury. The pain is a direct result of the swelling in your injured area.
Other forms of pain cold therapy can treat are arthritic joint pain accompanied with swelling, headaches, and soreness after workouts.
By applying ice or cold packs to the affected area, you numb the pain and narrow the blood vessels, thereby slowing blood flow and reducing fluid buildup. This results in two benefits: less pain and less swelling.
Cold therapy should only be a temporary treatment for a new issue. You should not apply cold therapy to chronic neck and back pain injuries or stiff and inflexible joints as this can actually make the issues worse.
Hot therapy is appropriate for treating persistent, recurring pain and for injuries that are older than a day. Recurring muscle pain, neck and back pain, stress, and older injuries can all be treated by hot therapy. Arthritic pain that causes stiffness and soreness, cramping, and tight backs are all examples of the type of pain best treated by hot therapy.
Heat therapy works by relaxing your muscles. It stimulates, rather than slows, blood flow, reduces muscle spasms, and soothes muscles, allowing a better range of motion. This is why hot packs are appropriate for stiffness and soreness.
You should not apply heat therapy to inflamed or swollen areas, as the heat can increase blood flow and actually worsen the swelling.
To sum it up, a good rule of thumb is to use cold therapy to treat recent injuries where you are experiencing inflammation or sudden pain. Use hot therapy to relieve chronic pain, stiffness or soreness, or older injuries that are no longer inflamed.
To provide both forms of therapy, our CorPaks
can be cooled in the freezer or warmed in the microwave, and applied directly and comfortably to the affected body area. By knowing the right type of therapy to use, you can better treat your pain, swelling, or soreness the next time you need quick relief.