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Applying Ice and Heat

Applying Ice and Heat

1.Ice is an analgesic which means it helps decrease pain, swelling and inflammation.  It is an important part of initial rehabilitation of an acutely injured area (an injury within the first 48 hours).  Ice therapy serves 3 purposes:
•Ice reduces swelling by constricting blood vessels and removes toxins.  Fresh nutrients and blood are able to rush to the site of injury
•Ice helps tighten ligaments that hold injured joints together.
•Ice reduces the pain by “numbing” the nerves at the injured site.  It is more difficult to feel pain when the tissues are cold.
2.Cold packs are the preferred method of applying ice because the packs will mold to the injured site.  You can also use a bag of peas or corn but make sure you put a towel between your skin and the ice pack.
3.It is critical to apply ice on an injury as soon as possible to help promote healing.  Use the R.I.C.E. rule: R-rest I-ice C-compress E-elevate the injured area.
4.The sensations that you will experience include: cold, burning, aching and numbness.

  Apply the ice directly to the painful area, making sure to place a towel or pillowcase between the ice and the skin, for 15 minutes.  Elevate the injury if possible so that the blood recycles toward the heart and then compress the injury.  You can use an ACE bandage to secure the ice.  You may want to have two or three ice packs or peas/corn available.  Rotate 15 minutes on with 40 minutes off for 6 consecutive hours for three days.

  You may want to use direct Ice massage.  Use Styrofoam cups and fill them with water until frozen.  Tear off about an inch of the top of the cup and use circular motions for 3 minutes.  Because you are applying ice directly to the skin you will need to keep the ice moving and only use the ice therapy for 3 minutes at a time.

  HEAT can be used to relax tight muscles and “knots” in the back.  If something feels painful and sore or swollen, avoid using heat.  Generally 10 minutes per session is adequate and heat therapy includes moist heat packs, hot tubs and ointments.  I prefer the Golden Tiger balms that we use in our office as it will penetrate into the muscles and not just heat up the skin.

Supporting Spinal Health

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