Do you know when it is best to use Ice or Heat for an injury? In my 10 years of practice experience, this question might be the most commonly asked question.
Most people tend to answer that they use HEAT for their injuries. BUT, is this the right move for you?
Generally, my response to patients is this. If your discomfort is ACUTE (NEW), SHARP, SHOOTING, and or DEBILITATING TO YOUR NORMAL FUNCTIONAL ACTIVITIES, the general recommendation is to use ICE!
If your discomfort is CHRONIC (OLD/FAMILIAR), DULL, ACHING, TIGHT, STIFF, TENDER, and LESS IMPACTFUL TO YOUR NORMAL FUNCTIONAL ACTIVITIES, HEAT can be used!
In some instances, it may be advisable to use both HEAT and ICE. In these situations, it is recommended that you begin and end your therapy session with ICE. This way you use the ICE to drive down any inflammatory response that may have been worsened as a result of the HEAT, which brings more blood to the affected region, sometimes worsening pain, once the heat dissipates. By using ICE before and after, you can help control that inflammatory response a little better.