15 Nov Why do Chiropractors Use Heat and Ice Therapy?
Applying heat or ice to your body helps relieve and prevent pain in various situations.
But how to use these great natural therapies can seem a little tricky. A common question we get from our patients at Eastern Oklahoma Chiropractic is whether to use heat or ice–or even both! Here are some facts to help clear up the confusion.
How Ice and Heat Provide Natural Pain Relief
Pain often results from inflammation in the areas around joints. Applying ice to these areas restricts blood flow, which reduces inflammation and promotes healing.
Sometimes, pain comes from muscle tension or from chronic conditions such as arthritis. Here, heat may help by loosening up tight areas and improving mobility.
Your chiropractor can advise you on which ice/heat treatments are best for your condition.
When to Use Ice
Inflammation from an acute injury can become chronic if not treated quickly. Applying cold soon after an injury can help slow the inflammation process.
A typical rule of thumb is to use ice in the first few days after an acute injury. However, the acute phase, with swelling and other symptoms, can sometimes last up to around 6 weeks. In these cases, ice may continue to work the best. Heat can make inflammation worse, interfering with healing.
When to Use Heat
Heat has benefits for longer-term problems. Applying heat can relieve pain and improve the range of motion for a chronic condition such as osteoarthritis.
Heat therapy increases blood flow to chronically affected areas, bringing in nutrients and oxygen to help healing.
Tips for Treating Yourself with Heat and Cold
Use ice or heat for about 20 minutes, and then take at least a 20 to 30-minute break. Don’t overdo it—longer sessions of ice or heat can be harmful.
For ice: use an ice pack or even a bag of frozen vegetables. Place a towel under the ice to protect your skin from freezing.
For heat: Use a heating pad or moist heat wrap. Or get in a warm shower, bath or hot tub, with water between 92-100 degrees.
You may find both heat and ice helpful for some situations:
- A cold mask on your forehead can work together with a relaxing moist heat wrap on your neck to relieve headaches.
- Apply heat before stretching and exercise to prepare muscles for activity.
- Apply ice after exercise to reduce swelling and pain as you cool down.
Chiropractic Care and Other Natural Ways to Minimize Pain
In addition to heat and ice, here are a few other noninvasive ways to reduce pain-causing muscle tension, anxiety and inflammation:
- Exercise and massage reduce stress and improve mobility.
- Mindfulness practices, such as breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga, relax and optimize your nervous system.
- Music therapy is shown to relieve anxiety.
- Regular chiropractic care helps your musculoskeletal and nervous systems to be at their healthiest. This is key to preventing and minimizing injuries, promoting healing, and reducing pain.
Your chiropractor can determine the source of your pain and customize treatments that will have you feeling better soon!
Schedule a Complimentary Consultation at Our Broken Arrow Office
Be proactive in resolving your pain by calling Eastern Oklahoma Chiropractic at 918-940-4630.