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To Ice Or To Heat?

Two simple treatments that have been around for generations - ice and heat - are still the best ways to handle a number of ailments. Doctors today call the treatments thermotherapy.

Warmth can relieve pain by relaxing muscles, while cold relieves pain by reducing inflammation. To find out which is better for your pain, refer to the chart below:




When to Use Use ice after an acute injury, such as an ankle sprain, or after activities that irritate a chronic injury, such as shin splints. Use heat before activities that irritate chronic injuries such as muscle strains. Heat can help loosen tissues and relax injured areas. 
How to Use It Try wrapping a bag of crushed ice or frozen vegetables in a towel to make a cold pack. Heating pads or hot wet towels are both excellent methods. Place a washcloth under hot tap water and then apply to the injured area. 
How Long to Use It Apply ice treatments for no longer than 20 minutes at a time. Too much ice can do harm and may even cause frostbite.  Apply heat treatments for no longer than 20 minutes at a time. Never apply heat while sleeping.