NKC Blog - Understanding Ice And Heat Therapy
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Understanding Ice And Heat Therapy

For decades now, ice and heat therapy has been used, relieving pain that is commonly associated with muscle and/or joint damages. Heat therapy started with a cloth dipped in hot water, and later came hot water bottles, and temperature-controlled pads to help offer them with ease. On the other hand, ice therapy also started by dipping a piece of cloth in cold water.


Cold Therapy

Cold therapy is designed to reduce blood flow to an injured area, as it helps slow the rate of inflammation, reducing the risk of tissue damage and swelling. Furthermore, it helps numb the area - while acting as a local anesthetic. It slows down the pain impact message from reaching your brain. Allowing you to keep cool and calm until you get the help you need. 


Ice can help you treat any swollen and inflamed muscle or joint, generally working wonders when applied within 48 hours of the injury, making ice compression a standard protocol when it comes to treating sports injuries. 


Note: You should never apply ice directly to your skin. It is best to use a cotton rag or small towel to create a healthy barrier. 


Types of Cold Therapy

  • A chemical cold pack or cold compress is applied to the inflamed area for 15 to 20 minutes. The process is followed every 4 to 6 hours for three days. You can purchase a single reusable cold compress, and place it in the freezer when you are done.
  • Soaking your inflamed and swollen muscle/joint in cold water can help you ease the overall impact. However, you should use cold water and avoid freezing water.
  • Massage the affected area with a small ice cube, or an ice pack. Following a circular motion for about 5 minutes. Follow the process at least five times a day, and do not let the ice cube or ice pack sit on your skin for more than a few seconds.


Heat Therapy

When you apply heat therapy to an inflamed area, it can help dilate the blood vessels, promoting blood flow, while helping you tightened and sore muscles to relax. Moreover, it can help boost the circulation of blood, eliminating the buildup of lactic acid waste. 


Another aspect of heat therapy is that it works as a reassuring psychological agent, enhancing its analgesic properties. Heat therapy is considered more effective than cold treatment when treating chronic muscle pain or soreness in joints caused by arthritis. 


Types of Heat Therapy

  • Heat therapy comes in the form of electric devices that can help you monitor and manage the temperature as you go. There are battery run and socket heating pads you can choose from or the classic hot water bottle, heat wrap, or hot compress.
  • You can soak the affected area in a hot bath running from 92 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or from 33 to 37.7 degrees Celsius. Check the temperature before you soak your body.
  • Heated paraffin wax treatment has gained a great deal of popularity in the last few years, making it a top choice for heat therapy.
  • Heat therapy can be applied using heat gels, rubs, patches, and medications containing heating agents.


Ice and heat therapy has been around for some time now, and offer great results based on the issue you are facing. Knowing the patient's history, and situation enables you to act accordingly, making sure you choose the right therapy.



Yours in self-care,

Adrian Wilk

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