Should I Use Heat or Ice on an Orthopedic Injury?
- Posted on: Apr 30 2019
If you’re dealing with an orthopedic injury, you’re likely wondering what the best way of managing the injury is. Ideally, you’ll have an appointment with an orthopedic expert lined up, but you might have a few days before the appointment during which you need to treat the injury. In other cases, you might simply be trying to manage chronic pain. Do you do so with heat or ice, though? It actually depends on the type of injury you’re dealing with.
If you’re dealing with arthritis or any other type of chronic joint pain, heat is the way to go. By applying heat to an area, you’ll increase the blood flow and help loosen up the tissues around the joints. However, it’s important that you do this before you begin any type of activity that you know is going to cause you pain. You don’t want to use heat after the activity, nor should you apply heat to any sudden injury. Only use the heating pad to treat your chronic condition as a pre-emptive solution.
While heat helps with chronic conditions, ice is the solution for acute (sudden) injuries. If you’ve hurt yourself within 48 hours, apply ice to the area where you have swelling. It will help reduce the swelling, stop muscle spasms, and even reduce the pain. You can also use ice for treating any chronic condition, but you want to do so after you’ve worked out or done any other activity. Here, the ice is used to help with inflammation. Never use ice before you’re active.
Tips for Controlling Pain with Heat and Ice
There are a few ways you can use heat and ice to help deal with chronic orthopedic pain. Using heat before an activity and ice afterwards will help minimize the amount of pain you feel while you’re active and during the rest of the day. You do, however, want to avoid using both heat and ice on any area you know has poor circulation or that has a lack of sensation. Also avoid both types of treatment on any area that is infected.
Every person and every injury is unique. If you’re not certain whether to use heat, ice, or neither, contact the experts at Maximum Orthopedics to discuss your specific injury and treatment plan.