Taunton Osteopath, John Why Parry offers some useful advice..
It is often confusing to determine whether Ice or heat treatment is appropriate for pain. Both heat and Ice can be beneficial, but using them at the wrong time can prolong injury recovery time.
Ice application is usually advised when an injury is in an acute inflammatory state. This usually occurs following an initial injury, re-aggravation of a chronic injury or following activity. The aim of ice application is essentially to control inflammation and has the following actions:
- Reducing blood flow to the affected area
- Reducing pain
- Reducing swelling
How should I apply ice?
Ice should be applied no longer than 20 minutes. It is recommended to be wrapped within a damp cloth to reduce the risk of ice burn. Some studies have shown that ice can create more inflammation if the area is iced for a a period over 8 minutes. It is therefore argued to ice at 8 minute intervals with 20 minutes break intervals.
Heat application is usually advised for chronic injuries such as repetitive strain injuries. The aim of heat application is to:
- Increased blood flow by dilating the blood vessels around the muscle. This increases the flow of nutrients and oxygen to the tissues enhancing nourishment to the tissues.
- Heat stimulates thermal receptors within the skin, which have an inhibitory effect on pain signals to the brain.
- Sooth and relax muscles which insists in improving flexibility and reducing joint compression.
How should heat to be applied?
It can be applied in numerous ways such as heat patches, warm baths and hot packs. Heat is usually administered for no longer than 20 minutes. This allows ample time for the heat to travel to different tissue layers of the body to the affected area.
Heat and ice are great simple ways of modulating the inflammatory response to control pain and assist with tissue healing. The mechanisms behind these are often implemented within the use of acupuncture and osteopathy taken a step further.
For example did you know that heat is often applied to acupuncture needles. This delivers controlled heat to the deeper tissues of the body, which are often difficult to reach.
For more information on how Acupuncture or Osteopathy can help you Contact Us on 01823 272227 for a free 30 minute consultation.