Cool it Off or Heat it Up ?

Cool it Off or Heat it Up ?

Cool it Off or Heat it Up ?

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One of the biggest questions we get after an injury is “should I put heat or ice on this?” It seems so simple, but it is one of the most controversial questions in injury medicine.

Let’s talk….

There have been many studies done on the efficacy of heat or ice on joint, muscle or soft tissue injuries and there is actually very little solid evidence to steer you toward  one or the other. Basically we have to go on experience and past results, and a little bit of common sense.

ICE

For acute injuries such as contusions, torn muscles, and fractures, use ice.  It decreases the inflammation and reduces the pain signals.

Wrap an ice pack, a pack a frozen peas or corn, or even frozen towels so the ice is not directly on the skin.

Only use ice packs for 10-20 minutes at a time to prevent frostbite.

Rest during a period of icing and if you are icing an extremity, elevate it.

Avoid ice if you have Reynaud’s disease, loss of sensation to the area, or paralysis.

 

Heat

For chronic injuries such as low back pain and stiffness, use heat.  It helps dilate the blood vessels, delivering more nutrients to the sore and stiff area.  It also stretches the softer tissues, including muscles, ligaments and tendons, easing stiffness.

Heat can be a hot water bottle, a microwave pack, a warm bath, or a sauna.

Heat packs should also be wrapped to prevent any burning of the skin and should not be kept on longer than 20 minutes.

Though heat can be a comfort, it should not be used on postoperative incisions or for acute injuries. Lengthy stays in a sauna or hot tub can cause weakness and dizziness. This could cause a fall that would result in more injuries.

The biggest thing to take from this is to not use heat on acute injuries or exacerbations. It will only increase any swelling, and along with that, the pain.

Citations

  • Schwitzguebel AJ, Muff G, Naets E, Karatzios C, Saubade M, Gremeaux V. [The acute management of muscle injuries in 2018]. Rev Med Suisse. 2018 Jul 11;14(613):1332-1339. PubMed PMID: 29998635

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Author and Contributor to www.Spine-Health.com – July, 2015

www.Spine-Health.com/author/john-h-shim-md-facs

Chief of Surgery, Mease Countryside and Mease Dunedin Hospitals, Safety Harbor and Dunedin, Florida. 2014-2016.

Orthopaedic Section Chief Mease Countryside Hospital; Safety Harbor, Florida Mease Dunedin Hospital; Dunedin, Florida.2008-2013

Board Member Morton Plant Mease Research Council

Co-Director of Mease Neuro-Ortho Spine Center Mease Dunedin Hospital; Dunedin, Florida.

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The Best Orthopedics in Tampa

The information provided on this website does not provide or should be considered medical advice. It is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment of any condition. The information provided is for informational purposes only. You should not rely solely on the information provided on this website in making a decision to pursue a specific treatment or advice. You should consult directly with a professional healthcare provider.

As a condition of using the information on this website, ShimSpine and its physicians are not responsible for any advice, diagnosis, treatment or outcome you may obtain.

ShimSpine.com is completely self-funded. No outside funds are accepted or used. This website does not utilize paid advertising as a source of revenue.
Outpatient Spine Surgery Considerations. www.Spine-Health.com. January 2016.

What is Spinal Stenosis? www.Spine-Health.com. October 2015.

Surgeon insights on the Changing Landscape of Orthopedic Care. OrthopedicToday. June 2014

Chapter 33: Interspinous Spacers. Shim JH, Mazza JS, Kim DH Published in Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Spinal Techniques. Elsevier Health Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Published 2011)

Chapter 35: Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Lumbar Fusion Technique.Shim JH, Mazza JS, Kim DH Published in Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Spinal Techniques. Elsevier Health Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Published 2011)

March 2010 Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting New Orleans, Louisiana February 2010

February 2010 A Review of Dynamic Stabilization in the Lumbar Spine Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

November 2009 Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Community Based Lecture; Tampa, Florida

September 2009 Instructor/Proctor Minimally Invasive Lumbar Cadaver Lab; Tampa, Florida

February 2009 New Spinal Technology: Cervical Disc Replacement and Interspinous Spacers. Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

February 2008 The Degenerative Spine: The Role of Dynamic Lumbar Stablization and Interspinous Spacers Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

October 2008 Emerging Technology and Techniques in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

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October 2006 Emerging Technology and Techniques in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

May 2005 The Role of Kyphoplasty in the Treatment of Vertebral Compression Fractures Mease Neurosciences Symposium; Clearwater, Florida
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