Sentara Comprehensive Pain Management Center

Pain Management Using Cold and Heat

If used correctly If used properly, a combination of heat and cold treatments can provide relief for up to 5 days. This therapy is particularly effective for muscle tears and overuse injuries. Also, it reduces inflammation and pain by dilation of blood vessels. This increases the flow of blood to the injured area. It can also help with joint pain that is chronic. The best thing about both treatments is that they can be combined!

Reduces inflammation
Compared to heat therapy, cold therapy can reduce inflammation and blood flow to the affected area. The cold therapy lessens swelling, while heat therapy boosts blood flow and draws in more nutrients. It is especially beneficial in pain relief due to its soothing effects on the joints. What therapy should you pick to ease your pain? Here are some helpful suggestions. And, make sure to check out our helpful chart. Let’s look at how heat and cold therapy can work together.

Ice therapy can be very efficient in decreasing swelling and inflammation. Ice therapy also helps reduce inflammation and swelling. It can also create the sensation of numbness that slows down the brain’s pain signals. The most effective cold therapies include ice baths, homemade ice packs, and chemical cold packs. Similar to the use of heat therapy, you must adhere to the correct procedure and limit the time of cold exposure. Do not leave the ice pack on the skin for more than 20 minutes because this could cause the skin to burn and cause hives.

Reduces swelling
While cold therapy can effectively reduce swelling, it comes with certain limitations. Patients who suffer from chronic injuries should avoid this method. Cold therapy should not be used on open injuries and should not be suggested for patients suffering from circulatory or neuropathy conditions. Moreover, patients suffering from infections should consult their doctor before applying this therapy. Cold therapy should also be applied to the affected areas only in the early stages of pain.

In general, doctors suggest applying ice to reduce swelling, then applying heat to relieve discomfort. Heating therapy improves blood flow and warms muscles prior to exercise. Cold therapy however can slow blood flow and decreases swelling and pain. Wrap the affected area with a towel to give the best relief. For the best results cold therapy should be applied for at minimum 15-20 minutes several times per day.

Reduces pain
It’s based on the type and extent of the injury which treatment is more effective in alleviating pain. In general, heat is the best treatment for pain that is acute, like an injury to the muscle, while cold therapy is advised when pain is chronic or has been causing joint pain. There isn’t a single right or wrong treatment. Cold therapy is beneficial to most people suffering from joint pain.

Cryotherapy or cold therapy is used to decrease swelling and inflammation. It slows the deterioration of tissues by inhibiting nerve activity. Specifically, it numbs sore muscle tissue and reduces nerve activity. It reduces swelling and inflammation by decreasing nerve activity. It is not recommended for everyone, particularly pregnant women and children. Because cold therapy causes the body to respond differently to heat, it is best for people who are experiencing a severe pain from an injury.

Lowers inflammation
If used to treat many health conditions, cold therapy can help reduce pain and swelling. Cold therapy reduces inflammation by reducing blood vessels in muscles, which reduces blood flow. Additionally, cold therapy reduces pain signal transmission by the brain. Methods for cold therapy include homemade ice packs as well as chemical cold packs. Similar to heat therapy, cold therapy should be limited to the recommended duration. If exposed to cold for too long could result in ice burns and the development of hives.

While both heat and cold therapy have advantages, they have different side effects. Cold therapy is more effective in treating acute injuries which result from diminished blood flow. Heating therapy increases blood flow, reduces swelling, inflammation, and improves circulation. It also has a psychological calming effect on those suffering, which makes it a great option for pain management that is ongoing. Cold therapy is not as effective in long-term pain management.