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Ice vs. Heat

As you step off the curb to cross the street, your ankle rolls under.  You wake up in the middle of the night with shooting back pain…for the third week in a row.  Yesterday, your neck was a little sore upon rising.  Now, you can’t even look over your right shoulder.  Should you ice?  Use heat?  Does it really matter?  It does.  Using ice and heat can be an effective and inexpensive way to manage pain but it is critical that you use them properly.

The body’s response to soft tissue damage is inflammation.  Immediately after the injury occurs, the body begins to send cells and nutrients to the area to help clean it up and being the recovery process.  There are three stages of inflammation:


  • Time Frame:  0-72 hours after injury occurred
  • Cardinal Signs: pain, swelling, heat, redness, loss of function
  • ICE


  • Time Frame:  72 hours to days or even weeks
  • Cardinal Signs: decreased pain, swelling, heat, redness and some increase in function
  • CONTRAST THERAPY: combination of ICE and HEAT

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November 26, 2014 0 Comments