ICE or Heat pack… What to use and when?
I have been wanting to write an article on this basic first aid step that many of us get confused about, for so long but life kept me busy. However, a recent injury of a colleague reminded me to put the pen to paper. I will keep it as short and clear as possible for everyone to remember it.
|What it does||Works by reducing blood flow to an area that can significantly reduce the inflammation and swelling leading to pain.||Works by improving circulation and blood flow to an area due to increased temperature and help increase muscle flexibility.|
|When to use||Acute injuries, pain along with inflammation or swelling||Chronic muscle pain or stiffness|
|Best for||Short-term pain, such as from a sprain or a strain.||Morning stiffness or to warm up muscles before activity|
|How to use||Apply to the painful area and rotate for 15-20 minutes several times each day. Also, wrap the ice pack in a thin towel to help protect your skin.||Apply to the painful area and rotate for 15-20 minutes several times each day. Also, wrap the heat pack in a thin towel to help protect your skin.|
There are exceptions where heat and ice both can work, such as muscle aches, spasms, and neck stiffness, however, knowing if the pain is acute or chronic, can help you to choose between these two. Next time you see someone in pain, asking for which one to apply, you can help them with this information.