However, knowing when to use heat or ice and whether to use ice or heat first can be tricky. Before we jump into treatment, it’s important to understand the symptoms and causes of many typical sports injuries. Knowing exactly when to use heat or ice can shorten recovery time and help with chronic aches, pains, and stiffness. Treating an injury can be tricky and not all sports injuries or conditions will require strictly ice or heat therapy.
This reduces pain and makes movement around the injury more comfortable, although it can also make the muscles being exercised stiffer. Generally the rule is to apply ice first to reduce swelling. Once initial swelling goes down heat may provide soothing relief and promote blood flow in order for your body to heal.
In general, it’s okay to use ice for as long as you have pain, swelling, and inflammation. A typical protocol is to apply ice for 10 minutes at a time once per hour for the first 72 hours. From then on, ice should be used three times a day—morning, midday, and a half-hour before bed. Still, there are limits to how long you should keep ice on an injured body part. Steamed towels or moist heating pads may intensify the penetration of heat into the muscles. Some people find that that moist heat provides better pain relief than dry heat.
Partial Immersion For Alternating Hot And Cold Therapy
Icing an injury is not medication, it’s just an auxiliary help to heal the injury. To put it simply, when you have an injury, your body will send blood flow and cells to begin the healing process. The problem is that all that blood flow is responsible for the pain and the swelling. When you have an injury, experts often recommend using ice to help with pain, inflammation, and swelling. However, too much cold therapy can also cause an ice burn. It’s possible to get frostbite from an ice pack if you leave it on your injury for too long or put it directly on your skin.
As an athlete who went through quite a few injuries I can tell a definite difference between icing and not icing. I am not sure how you smart scientists come out with your results but there must be some serious flaw in your research. Knee instability and locked knee symptoms, including the knee locking up during normal movement, are all common following a meniscus tear.
Since it also compresses the shoulder joint, the strap can help reduce swelling, too. It works by stabilizing the injured muscles while also managing muscle temperature. The heat that the support retains within the muscles can then promote faster healing. Protect and rest your shoulder injury immediately after the trauma occurs. It’s best to avoid placing weight on your injured shoulder for the first one to two days.
Can A Bruise Go Away In 2 Days?
Our physical therapists have served Phoenix and the surrounding communities for more than 20 years and look forward to serving you. Ethan Anderson says that a physical therapist can perform a technique known as Manual Lymphatic Drainage and other skilled manual therapy techniques. Even so, swelling can become excessive, can last for too long, or can lead to other complications.
Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. There are a few additional things you can along with icing an injured area. Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Arthritis, migraine headaches, and trigeminal neuralgia are just some of the chronic disorders that may benefit from ice application.
Otherwise, you’re simply reducing pain by numbing the area with ice, but the swelling won’t go away without elevation. To keep the ice from doing damage to the skin, place a towel around it. Michael Lau, PT, DPT, CSCS, is a licensed physical therapist, strength and conditioning coach, and co-founder of The Prehab Guys. When this happens, less blood reaches the injured area.
How Long Should Swelling Last After An Injury?
First, you can use nothing and leave the whole healing process to your body. Or you can use icing but only to alleviate the discomfort in the first hours and not use it long-term. Now, when it comes to days, you should keep the treatment until the pain goes away. Pain and swelling are one of the best signals that your body uses to let you know that things aren’t as good as they could be. So, until the area of the injury doesn’t go back to normal, keep icing it.
The muscles contract, inflammation is lowered, and pain signals are reduced. Ice can be applied within 24–48 hours of the onset of pain and swelling for the best chance of reducing inflammation. If your symptoms don’t improve after 2 days of icing your injury may be a serious one that needs medical attention. Physical therapy may be an option if your pain is causing mobility limitations.
Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health. Many athletes are known to take ice baths after training to lower inflammation, improve circulation, and reduce lactic acid build-up. Raynaud’s syndrome Cold treatments would adversely affect this condition, which is characterized by constricted blood vessels in colder temperatures. Those with low blood pressure, poor circulation, or heart conditions may react adversely to extreme heat or cold.
Wrap the affected area with an elastic medical bandage . You want it to be snug but not too tight — if it’s too tight, it’ll interrupt blood flow. If the skin below the wrap turns blue or feels cold, numb, or tingly, loosen the bandage. If these symptoms don’t disappear right away, seek immediate medical help.
The injuries and conditions below follow the rule of ice first, heat later. After an acute injury, ice should be used to minimize swelling for the first two to three days. After this period, heat can be used to increase blood flow and assist the natural healing process. Applying heat too early may cause additional swelling by increasing blood flow to the injury. Certainly, there are exceptions to these rules of thumb and some injuries may respond more appropriately to a combination of both ice and heat therapy.
The sooner ice is applied to reduce inflammation, the more likely it is that the injury will heal quickly (ice may limit/prevent internal bleeding). Ice may also be used after high-intensity exercise to prevent inflammation or reduce inflammation. Even though there isn’t any conclusive study on its effectiveness, many people report that it does work. You have to dip the tea bag on hot water, let it cool off, and then apply it on the injury area.