Question: When Is It Best To Use Cold Or Heat for an injury?
Answer: There are two treatments that health care providers can use to help with pain management for patients, cold and heat therapy. The therapy will generally come in forms of hot packs or cold packs when you’re in the doctors office. Cold therapy is most commonly used if an area is red, swollen, inflamed, or right after an acute injury which needs to be cooled down to prevent any inflammation. For acute injuries often a topical anti-inflammatory is used on the injured body area.
Heat therapy is used to prepare a body part or a portion of your leg or arm for exercise. Heat helps in increasing blood flow or circulation, increasing tissue elasticity or flexibility, and it will just help warm up or prepare the body part to accept the exercise or the stretching.
You can use heat or cold in combination with exercise. So, if a runner just worked out very hard in the gym with a trainer, cold therapy at the end could be used to help calm and cool down the area so there’s no increased irritation or inflammation. You can also use heat just for its soothing effects before and after the exercise, and we can also instruct the patients on how to use cold or heat therapy in the form of ice packs or ice cubes versus a heating pad at home, so that way they can help with their own pain control while they’re outside of the trainers recommendations.
For Cold therapy we recommend the Ice Right Latex-Free Thermal Compression Bandage as an easy to use solution.
For Heat therapy we recommend the ReGear ReBound® System, which is a portable solution.