Hot vs Cold Treatment

Do I need a heat pack or an ice pack?

Cold therapy produces vasoconstriction. This means that the diameter of the blood vessels in the area become smaller, allowing less blood to flow to the target tissues. This slows circulation, which in turn reduces inflammation, reduces swelling, eases muscle spasm and decreases pain by slowing the nerve impulses to the injured area.

Superficial cold is available in many forms, including a variety of commercial cold packs, ice cubes, iced towels/compresses, a bag of frozen peas and forms of hydrotherapy. Cold or ice should never be applied directly to the skin. A barrier, such as a damp towel, should be placed between the cold agent and the skin’s surface to prevent skin and nerve damage. Punctured commercial cold packs should be immediately discarded, as the chemical agent/gel will burn skin.

You should use an ice pack for a maximum of 20 minutes. However, for those with thin skin over the age of 50, please use for a maximum of 10 to 12 minutes.
Ankle sprains and hand injuries will respond better to a bowl of cold water with ice cubes in for 10 to 20 minutes.

The ice pack can be re-applied every couple of hours initially, and then less frequently as the painful condition improves.

Professional chiropractic ice packs that mould to your skin when frozen are available from our shop. Please click here for details.

For chronic pain, that is pain that has been present for a few days, treat with a heat pack.

Heat therapy induces vasodilatation. This means that the diameter of the blood vessels in the area become bigger, allowing more blood to flow to the target tissues. Increased blood flow delivers needed oxygen and nutrients and removes cell wastes. The warmth decreases muscle spasm, relaxes tense muscles, relieves pain and can increase range of motion.

Superficial heat is available in many forms, including hot and moist compresses, heating pads, hydrotherapy and commercial chemical/gel packs. Hot packs in any form should always be wrapped in a towel to prevent burns. Punctured commercial hot packs should be immediately discarded, as the chemical agent/gel will burn skin.

Use a heat pack for no longer then 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Like above, the heat pack can be re-applied every couple of hours initially, and then less frequently as the painful condition improves.