The age-old debate of Ice vs heat has caused some controversy in the medical world over the years! We’ve all been injured at some point in our lives and your friend said ‘quick get an ice pack!’ or a medical nurse said ‘you just need to get some heat on it!’ but which one is it that we really need when hurt?
Well, the answer itself may lay in where you are hurt and what type of injury you have sustained. We’ve touched on Ice Vs Heat in our pain management at home blog previously but today we’re going to talk more in depth about when to and when not to use ice and heat.
Ice and Heat are two very different methods of pain/injury relief and because of this our bodies react very differently to each. This is why one or the other may be needed at different times based on your injury or condition, so it’s crucial to know when to, and when not to use ice or heat. Inflammation, swelling, pressure and pain are usually the first symptoms to appear after an injury and make managing the pain difficult. Our friend Ice is known to reduce inflammation/ swelling and blood flow, you’ll know ice is also great for numbing pain, so usually on initial impact of an injury using an ice pack is a great go-to for helping to ease the instant pain. In comparison, heat does something completely different. Heat improves your circulation, causing an increase in blood flow, heat also helps to relax muscles and stiff joints.
Ice tends to be administered and used for acute injuries, acute pain or new injuries for the fact that it is good at lessening the initial pain and injury symptoms but also means that ice is more of a temporary fix. Ice can potentially numb the nerves in the areas it is applied to which is good for pain relief, but also means that there are some minor problems associated with using ice improperly. You should only use ice for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, If you apply ice to areas for longer than advised you can cause your joints to feel tighter and stiffer, increasing pain instead of relieving it. A very serious side affect for those who suffer with joint issues already with conditions like arthritis. Many common chronic types of pain like back or neck for example will not benefit from ice, they would benefit from heat. The ice will cause aggravation of the muscles and result in increased pain and discomfort from the tightness.
Heat is mostly used to relax stiff muscles and joints, and is especially beneficial for managing and soothing chronic pains. As heat improves circulation it aids in relieving stress and tensions in the body which could be causing the stiffness and pain in the back and/or neck. Improvement in blood flow is also known to help healing damaged tissues which can then help in the later stages of rehabilitation. Heat therapy can be used for longer periods of time on the body but is still usually most effective within 15-10 minutes of use, however unlike ice – heat should not be applied to areas with swelling and inflammation as heat can make these symptoms worsen.
It is clear that ice does have its own applications after suffering a recent injury where swelling and inflammation are present, but after those symptoms have subsided, ice can no longer provide any further healing to the injury. Instead, heat provides a much more effective and long-term solution to most common and chronic pains. Due to heat being the more viable long-term pain relief option the medical industry has incorporated heat into treating chronic pains with technologies such as TECAR Therapy.
TECAR is an energy technology delivered by physiotherapists that promotes faster functional recovery through heat. TECAR energy (a high frequency current) is very popular with athletes and many other patients which is why we commonly use TECAR Therapy in our clinic due to its therapeutic benefits. We have been using TECAR to treat patients for many years ensuring the highest levels of knowledge and skill in treating a wide range of conditions.
The key benefits of TECAR therapy are:
- Accelerates pain reduction in comparison to other electrotherapies such as ultra-sound
- Accelerates the natural healing mechanisms of the body, thereby reducing recovery time
- Faster functional recovery. (The beneficial effects are apparent after just a few sessions and improvements can be observed even 24 hours after treatment.)
- Treatment is painless and relaxing.
- Treatments are safe and have high therapeutic efficacy.
- Promotes a sense of well-being, predisposing the subject towards post-treatment physical activity.
- Faster rehabilitation.
If you are suffering from pain or an injury/condition and have not found relief in either ice or heat, you may benefit from TECAR therapy, why not book a FREE 15-minute discovery visit with a physio?
In this complimentary visit you will have a chance to speak to about your needs/and or condition/concerns and we will let you know if physio or TECAR therapy is right for you.
To book an appointment or FREE discovery visit, callus on: 0207 636 8845