Avenue Clinic

Avenue Clinic

Should I use Ice or Heat on an Injury?

Both heat and cold are beneficial in reducing pain, but they work in different ways. Through my experience some people are still not sure when they should be using cold or when they should be applying heat. I hope you find the following useful.

Ice packs should be used on acute injuries, for example an ankle sprain or a muscle strain (especially in the first 48 hours). Make sure you wrap the cold pack in a towel to avoid a freeze burn and do not apply it for longer than 10 minutes at a time. You can ice an injury several times a day, but you should allow skin temperature to return to normal between each application. The ice pack helps to control/reduce the swelling, therefore will help to control pain. Heat increases blood flow and therefore increases swelling, so should not be put on a recent injury where swelling is involved.

Heat packs are mostly commonly used on chronic injuries/injuries you have had for a while, for example aching in the upper shoulders from deskwork or longstanding low back pain. Heat helps stimulate blood flow to the area and relaxes the tissues. You should again be careful to avoid burns and should only apply heat for 20 minutes at time.

So remember:

–       Never apply heat to an injury when swelling is involved

–       Do not apply heat after exercise or while sleeping

–       Do not apply ice to an injury before exercise

–       Do not apply ice or heat to skin that is in poor condition

If in doubt about the use of ice or heat, please consult a healthcare professional.






"I cannot speak too highly of the Osteopath’s skills and I recommend anyone suffering from a condition requiring treatment by an osteopath to get in touch with Avenue."

Mr R (for Osteopathy )

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