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Posted on 06-05-2017
When we first consult with a new patient, and discuss their main complaints, one of the questions we ask them is “what have you been doing to help relieve your symptoms?” Often enough, patients tell us that they’ve tried to apply heat, ice or a combination of the two, but don’t really know the full benefits of applying either one. When suffering from an injury, there is a more suitable time to apply heat and a more suitable time to apply ice. If you’re dealing with any pain and discomfort, this may help shed some light on when and how to use them.
The best time to use ice is after a more acute injury. In other words, apply ice to areas you have recently injured. This includes injuries such as sprains and sudden back pain, including sciatica. The purpose of using ice is to reduce swelling and inflammation by constricting blood vessels. Apply ice to the injured area within 42-78 hours of the onset of the injury. It’s best to apply the ice in cycles. We usually tell our patients to apply ice for 10 minutes in duration, at least every 2 hours. An important thing to remember is to NOT APPLY ICE DIRECTLY ON YOUR SKIN. This can lead to burning or frostbites on your skin. The best way to use it is to wrap the ice pack in a towel before applying it on the painful area. Ice packs are very handy to have stored in your freezer and can be found at your local drug stores or superstores.
The best time to use heat is usually with more chronic injuries. These are the nagging injuries that re-occur often and especially when you’re feeling tightness in your muscles. The purpose of applying heat is to increase blood flow to the area. This helps provide oxygen and nutrients to the painful area and allow the natural healing process to happen. Usually with heat you would want to apply it for longer than ice, but still apply it in cycles. We usually suggest applying heat for 20-30 minutes in duration, at least every two hours. An important thing to remember is to be mindful of the temperature of the heat. Heat can also be irritating to the skin, so discontinue its use if the skin becomes painful or inflamed. You can also wrap the heat in a towel so that it doesn’t have direct contact on your skin, as you’re able to still feel the heat over the injured tissue. Applying heat can be done in a number of ways, such as heat packs (usually a dual ice/heat pack), heating pads or hot rubber water bottles.
What’s important to know is that these are ways to deal with your pain for the moment, but it’s always best to consult your Mississauga Chiropractor to find the root cause of your symptoms and figure out a way to properly handle it to prevent further pain/injury in the future. Whether it’s an acute or chronic injury, do not hesitate to contact us so we can further discuss your problem and your health. Call us at (905)821-4951 to book with us today!
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