Coping With An Injury: Understanding When To Use Ice Or Heat

When you are young you feel like you are superhuman and immortal. It’s hard to think about death or even becoming injured. However, anyone can receive an injury. It can be an accident in the house, an issue when undertaking sport, or a direct result of aging and weakened bones.

Regardless of how the injury has occurred, understanding the most effective treatment will help to reduce pain and speed up recovery. Ice and heat play a part in this.

Of course, it also helps to check out physiotherapy near me to locate a physiotherapist. These should be considered an essential part of any recovery plan as they will assess the seriousness of your injury and help you recover by giving you specific exercises. These improve strength and flexibility, restoring your original abilities faster.

The Role Of Ice

When you place ice on your skin the area will cool rapidly. The coolness will cause your blood vessels to constrict. This reduces the flow of blood to the injury. When you have first injured yourself this can be considered a good thing.

Reduced blood flow means fewer nutrients and oxygen, reducing the ability of the nerves in the area to send pain signals. In short, the cold will reduce the feeling of pain.

Alongside this, coldness reduces inflammation. When you injury yourself the surrounding tissues swell, effectively creating a shield to protect the injured area. This swelling places pressure on your nerves, making the injury more painful and reducing your ability to move the joint.

Being less mobile often means more muscle wastage occurs during healing than is necessary, delaying the overall healing time.

Ice prevents inflammation, effectively helping you to maintain mobility.

How Heat helps

In contrast, applying heat to an area will open the blood vessels increasing the flow of blood to the injured area. When blood flow increases so do the supply of nutrients and oxygen. These are critical to the injured components as they help the area to regenerate and heal.

Heating is good for healing and helps to relax the muscles and tendons, making it easier for you to move them and maintain flexibility and strength.

Administering Ice & Heat

The best approach is to administer icer straight away. This reduces the pain and inflammation, helping you to be able to heal faster. You should never apply ice directly to the skin as this can cause burns.

It’s best to have icer, wrapped in a cloth, on your skin for approximately 20 minutes. You can then switch and use heat for twenty minutes. Heat pads or a cloth soaked in warm water is an effective approach.

Most experts recommend you alternate the two for the first twenty-four hours. After that, the risk of inflammation is reduced and you can focus on warming the area to improve blood flow and your ability to exercise it. Don’t forget, a physiotherapist is the best person to see to ensure the exercises you are doing are really beneficial for the injured area.