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Ice vs Heat



Ice or heat? Does it matter? Yes, it does. And it can affect the time it takes to heal and recover from an injury.
There are three stages to healing after an injury:

1) Acute
a. 0-72 hours after injury
b. Possible Signs: Pain, Swelling, Heat, Redness, Loss of Function
c. ICE (goal = decrease swelling, decrease pain)
d. Wrap ice pack in towel, apply 15 minutes on and off for one hour, repeat as necessary

2) Subacute
a. 72 hours to days or weeks
b. Possible Signs: Decrease in Pain, Swelling, Heat, Redness, Increase in Function
c. CONTRAST THERAPY (goal = decrease inflammation, increase circulation)
d. Ice for 5 minutes, Heat for 10 minutes, Ice for 5 minutes – repeat as necessary (Always end with cold to avoid excess inflammation)

3) Chronic
a. Days to months or years
b. Possible Signs: Pain upon stretch or overuse, soreness, stiffness
c. HEAT (Still use ice after overuse or exercise)
d. Heat for 20 minutes every hour, repeat as necessary
If pain occurs, or the ice or heat is intolerable, contact your healthcare provider

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