People have been using heat and cold therapies to address their endurance injuries for a long time. Knowing what heat and ice can do and how to avoid problems can help you make the most of these effective therapies.
Ice Therapy (Cryotherapy): Pros and Cons
Endurance injuries typically involve a lot of swelling, which can increase pain and make movement difficult. Ice therapy is a very common way to treat endurance injuries for the following reasons:
• Easy access. Ice therapy can be done at home, the gym or anywhere that a person has access to cold substances.
• Reduces swelling. Ice causes the blood vessels to constrict. This is the body’s way of holding in heat and maintaining body temperature. This also helps reduce swelling at the site of an injury.
• Pain reduction. Ice slows down nerve activity, which allows the patient to feel less pain.
There are a few downsides to ice therapy. Namely:
• Tissue damage. Ice packs that are too cold and left on the body for too long can actually damage the skin and other parts of the body.
• Short-lasting. As an ice pack sits on the body, it warms up. The effectiveness of an ice pack is short-lived.
Heat Therapy: Pros and Cons
Heat can be administered to an injury through a variety of methods including heating pad, microwavable pad and air-activated heat pack. The pros of heat therapy include:
• Pain relieving. The major advantage of heat therapy is that it helps relieve intense muscle pain.
• Transportable. Heat therapy can be done just about anywhere, at the gym, at home or at work.
The downsides of heat therapy include:
• Burns. Sometimes heat therapy gets a little too hot. Patients are advised to ease into a heat therapy treatment to avoid further injury.
• Can increase swelling. Injuries that are prone to swelling will swell more when heat is applied because heat increases circulation in the injured area. For these injuries, patients should use ice.
Before you apply heat or ice to your endurance injuries, speak with your chiropractor to find out which method is best for your needs. Call Manhattan Physical Therapy and Pain Center today and we’ll help you find the relief you need to get back on your feet.