Shirley Ryan Pain Management Center

Pain Management Using Cold and Heat

If properly used, a combination hot and cold therapy can provide relief for up to five days. This therapy is especially beneficial for injuries from overuse and tears to muscles. The cold therapy can also lessen the pain and inflammation by dilation of blood vessels. In turn, it promotes a faster blood flow to the injured area. It can also help with chronic joint pain. The best part is that both types of therapy can be used in conjunction!

Inflammation is reduced
Cold therapy is more efficient than heat therapy in the reduction of inflammation and blood flow to the affected areas. The cold therapy lessens swelling, while heat therapy boosts blood flow and pulls in more nutrients. It is especially effective in pain management due to its soothing effects on joints. Which one of the therapies should you choose to ease your discomfort? Here are some suggestions. Take a look at our chart for help. Let’s see how heat therapy and cold therapy work together.

Ice therapy can be extremely effective at decreasing swelling and inflammation. It also has an numbing effect, which slows down the brain’s signals for pain. The most effective cold therapies include ice baths, homemade ice packs, and chemical cold packs. As with heat therapy, it is important to follow the proper procedure and limit the amount of cold exposure. Don’t leave the ice pack on your skin for more than 20 minutes because this could cause burns and hives.

Reduces swelling
While cold therapy can help reduce swelling, it has some limitations. This therapy should not be used on patients with chronic injuries. In addition cold therapy should not be used on open wounds and is not recommended for individuals with circulatory or neuropathic conditions. Patients suffering from infections should consult with their doctor before using cold therapy. Cold therapy should be applied to the affected areas only in the beginning stages of the pain.

In general, doctors suggest applying ice first to decrease swelling, and then applying heat to relieve pain. Heat therapy improves blood flow and warms muscles prior activities. Cold therapy on the other hand slows blood flow and reduces swelling and pain. Cover the affected area with a towel to give the most effective relief. For better results, cold therapy should be applied for at least 15-20 minutes several times a day.

Reduces pain
Depending on the nature of injury, cold or heat therapy is the most effective method for decreasing pain. In general, heat is the best alternative for pain that’s acute, like a muscle strain, and cold therapy is recommended when pain is chronic such as chronic joint pain. However, there is no definitive and absolute rule of thumb for which is more efficient. Cold therapy is beneficial to those suffering from joint pain.

Cryotherapy or cold therapy is used to decrease swelling and inflammation. It helps to reduce the damage to tissues by inhibiting nerve activity. It reduces muscle numbness and nerve activity. It also reduces inflammation and swelling by decreasing nerve activity. However it isn’t suitable for certain people, especially children and pregnant women. Because cold therapy causes the body to react differently to heat, it is recommended for those suffering from extreme pain due to an injury.

Inflammation is lessened
Cold therapy can be used to treat a range of health conditions. Cold therapy can reduce inflammation by reducing blood vessels in muscles, which can reduce blood flow. Moreover, cold therapy lowers pain signal transmission via the brain. Cold therapy methods include homemade ice packs as well as chemical cold packs. Like heat therapy cold therapy should be limited to the recommended time frame. Long-term exposure to cold can result in Hives or ice burns.

Although both cold and therapy have benefits However, they come with different side effects. Injuries that are severe are more likely to be treated using cold therapy due to the decreased blood flow. The heat therapy improves blood flow and reduces inflammation, swelling and improves circulation. It also has a psychological calming impact on the patient, making it an ideal choice to manage chronic pain. Cold therapy is not as effective in long-term pain management.