When is it right to apply ice or heat to heal the pain?
One of the most common questions I hear in the office is should I us ice or heat on an injury. Here are some helpful hints that will help determine when to use ice or heat.
Ice Should Be Used For:
- Acute pain (pain that is caused by soft tissue damage and has been there for less than 6 weeks.)
Examples Of When To Use Ice On Your Foot:
What Is The Best Way To Apply Ice
The best way to apply ice is to use a bag of frozen peas or corn, ice cubes in a baggie or frozen gel pack. Wrap a cloth around the ice pack, this will help to prevent damage to the surrounding tissue. Use the pack for 20 minutes on 20 minutes off.
Why Should I Ice For 20 Minutes On 20 Minutes Off?
The reason for putting on ice to an injury is to reduce swelling. If you leave the ice pack on for a too long a period of time, your body will try to make your body warmer by increasing the blood flow to the area. This is the opposite of what your are trying to do with the ice, so although you think it would be better, it isn’t.
Heat Should Be Used For:
- Long term injury
- Pain that has lasted for more than 6 weeks
Examples Of When To Use Heat On Your Foot:
- Tendonitis (after the inflammation has gone down)
DO NOT USE HEAT FOR ACUTE INJURIES THIS WILL DELAY THE HEALING PROCESS!
What Is The Best Way To Apply Heat?
Using a hot shower, bath or whirlpool is probably one of the most relaxing ways to apply heat. Keep the water temperature between 92-103 degrees to avoid scalding.
Putting a heat wrap around the painful area works great when you are at work or traveling
If you are able to use a heating pad, you will want to make sure that the heat is at the right temperature. People who suffer from Raynaud’s syndrome, neuropathy or diabetes may not be able to feel the temperature on a heating pad. They need to be especially cautious when using a heating pad to avoid burns.
If you have an injury or an ongoing foot problem give our office a call at (845) 298-9074. We have same day appointments available for acute pain patients and are here to help you.
Hollowbrook Foot Specialist serving the Hudson Valley from Wappingers Falls.
By David Schlam