Hot / Cold Packs

Therapeutic Use of Heat and Ice

One of the most common questions we hear is, “Do I use ice or heat for my injury?” We answer, “Well, that depends …” Ice is used in an acute or very recent injury or surgery. Ice decreases swelling, muscle spasm and pain. It also slows down circulation and healing, so in more chronic or lengthy injuries it can be beneficial to alternate with heat. Heat increases circulation, which can encourage healing. Heat also relaxes muscles and helps prepare them for stretching type treatment. In our clinic we often heat before treatment to allow for greater range-of-motion gains, and ice afterward to reduce swelling or pain. Most injuries have a preference for how they respond best; for example, some long-term tendonitis cases actually do better with heat to stimulate healing as opposed to ice, which slows down healing. What is most important is that we never ice to cover up over-aggressive therapy.

Contact us at 734-971-9790 to schedule an initial evaluation with a physical therapist to determine which treatment approach is right for you.