This is a common question from patients trying to recover from an injury.
Ice packs constrict blood vessels to reduce bleeding and swelling. Cold also reduces the nerve responses of pain. Use cold for acute pain or a new injury.
Heat packs allow muscles to relax and reduces stiffness in joints. Heat also opens blood vessels to hasten healing. Use heat for chronic pain or to loosen up before exercise.
Whether using cold or heat, avoid extreme temperatures by protecting your skin from direct contact and limit exposure (no more than 20 minutes at a time).
Only use cold or heat therapy if you’re certain it’s appropriate for you. They should not be used over an open wound or area with decreased sensation. Elderly, immune-compromised, and those with circulatory problems should check with their physician first.
For more guidance on a specific injury, you can reach our office by calling (847) 675-3400. Let Dr. Miller evaluate your pain and find a treatment plan that will work for you.