Many people are confused as to when to apply ice or heat after an injury. Not only is applying cryotherapy (ice) or thermotherapy (heat) one of the safest forms of therapy but it is also the cheapest.
Here are some helpful hints as to when to use ice or heat.
Ice is for immediate injuries. It helps inflamed, red, hot, swollen injuries. Inflammation is a normal healthy response to injury but it often comes with pain. Ice will help dull the pain by constricting blood vessels that contribute to the inflamed, red, hot, and swollen areas.
A general rule of thumb is to apply ice in the first 72 hours following an injury or accident.
Heat in contrast is generally used for chronic pain. Pain lasting beyond 72 hours will benefit best from applying heat. Some instances when heat would be helpful are triggers points and muscle spasms. The pain can be persistent or reoccurring.
Apply ice or heat for 15-20 minutes, 3-4 times a day. Remove from the treatment site immediately if there is increasing discomfort.
Using heat or ice is not a substitution for a medical evaluation and/or treatment. Please follow-up with your chiropractor following an injury or car accident.