Should I Use Ice or Heat for Pain?

If you’ve suffered an injury or experience chronic pain, then you’ll want to know what your best option is as far as pain management in Vero Beach goes. While you should definitely visit a physical therapist to help with your pain management, there are a few things that you can do at home as well, such as applying ice or heat to the affected area for pain relief. However, a lot of people aren’t sure whether ice or heat is the best option. Generally speaking, it depends on your injury or condition.

Pain Management in Vero Beach

The reasoning behind whether you should choose to use ice or heat requires that you understand the mechanisms of the injury as well as the physiological and biochemical causes of pain. When it comes to physical injuries that you’ve sustained in the last 48 hours (for example, you hurt your knee or ankle playing pickup basketball), then ice is usually the best option. If you’re suffering from chronic pain (pain that you’ve had for a long time), then the application of moist heat is the best form of pain management.

Managing pain with ice

The application of ice helps to provide an overall soothing feeling and helps calm things down. This is because cold will decrease local metabolism and constrict your small blood vessels. By reducing your nerve conduction velocity (how fast your nerve impulses are transmitted), you’ll reduce the number of pain signals being sent to your brain.

Acute injuries are often treated using ice within the first 72 hours of the onset of the injury. When you experience an acute injury, blood will leak into the spaces between your cells and tissues. This causes pressure on your local nerve endings, which, in turn, causes pain. This pressure can also cause cell death and extended injury. The use of ice will help limit the amount of blood that leaks out of the disrupted capillaries, thereby slowing down the effects as well as reducing the impact of the injury.

The application of ice for pain management is particularly effective when it comes to burns, snake bites, acute musculoskeletal injuries, and insect bites. There are a few conditions where ice shouldn’t be used. If you have gout, cold allergies, a history of vascular impairment, Raynaud’s phenomenon, or rheumatoid arthritis, then ice should not be used for pain management.

When applying ice packs, make sure to wrap them in a towel and to apply them for no more than 15 minutes at a time every two hours.

Managing pain with heat

Applying moist heat to the area that’s causing pain will help to increase local metabolism and dilate your small blood vessels. This will result in the increased activity of white blood cells as well as the removal of waste. As a result, using heat is best for chronic pain and muscle spasms. However, you’ll want to avoid using heat for certain conditions, such as acute skin conditions, diabetes, hemorrhagic disorders, encapsulated swelling, acute musculoskeletal injuries, pregnancy, and areas of reduced sensation.

Additionally, when applying heat it’s important that moist heat is used. Dry heat should never be used as it can harm the skin. When using moist heat packs, wrap them up in a towel before applying them to the affected area for no more than 15 minutes every two to three hours.

Schedule an Appointment in Vero Beach Today

If you’re suffering from pain, whether it’s chronic or not, then be sure to contact us at Florida Spine in Vero Beach to find out what the best pain management options are for you.