When you’re in pain, it’s understandable to want quick relief, especially if your discomfort impairs your ability to relax or sleep. Will ice or heat do the trick? And if so, which one is best? Our board-certified physicians and pain management specialists weigh in on the classic ice vs heat debate.
Cold therapy and heat therapy can both be effective applications for managing pain and injuries. Heat therapy, which is typically achieved with hot packs or heating pads, can ease stiffness, soothe achy muscles, and increase local blood flow for enhanced tissue healing.
Ice therapy, typically administered with freezable cold packs or even bags of ice, is best for inflammation and general swelling. Cold will restrict blood flow, thereby reducing swelling and minimizing further tissue damage following acute injuries. Since heat can increase blood flow instead of restrict it, heat packs could actually worsen swelling and inflammation in acute injuries.
For your safety, you should never use ice or heat over areas of broken or infected skin, or on areas of the body with diminished sensation. You should also check with your healthcare provider if you have a chronic health condition, since cold or heat therapy is not recommended in the presence of certain health conditions.
If ice or heat helps you feel better, we encourage you to utilize these tools. After all, cold packs and heat packs are inexpensive, generally safe when used correctly, and can provide good relief—but only temporarily. When you have chronic pain, ice and heat can only get you so far. And when you have persistent daily pain, you shouldn’t have to settle for only “quick fixes” that don’t address the underlying cause of your discomfort.
If you’re tired of having to re-freeze your cold pack or reheat a heat pack, only to have your pain come right back, we encourage you to contact our team at Center for Pain Management. Our multidisciplinary approach and diverse array of diagnostic and therapeutic services help you get to the root of your pain and discover longer-lasting solutions.
At Center for Pain Management, our pain management specialists help you navigate the often confusing journey of a chronic pain condition. Our services are always custom-tailored to your needs, your body, and your health goals. Call us today at 317-706-7246 to schedule an appointment at one of our three convenient Indiana locations: Lafayette, Greenwood, and Indianapolis.