Hot vs. Cold Therapy

When you don't know much about physical therapy and sprains or buises you might end up wondering if the right way to go is hot or cold.  Applying hot and cold compresses are a common type of therapy applied to muscle and joint pain due to injuries.  Both are non-invasive pain relief methods and either of them is addictive.  The question is when to use one or the other.  A simple way to know is asking yourself the following:  

Does the pain keep coming back or is it new?  
Cold Therapy
Inflammation and swelling will be present in a new injury.  In this case the way to go is cold.  Applying cold compresses such as the Standard Ice Kold Instant Ice Compress will lower the amount of blood that flows through the injured areas.  This will result in a decrease of inflammation and swelling.
Use  cold therapy in case of:
  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Bumps
  • Bruises


When to apply it?
  • 24 to 48 hours after an injury
How to apply it?
  • Use ice packs or ice cubes in a bag.
  • Don't apply it for more than 20 min.
  • Remove the cold after 10 min then apply it again. 
Heat Therapy
When the pain is reoccurring, Heath Therapy is the best option.  The heat will help the blood flow move faster into the area and enhance the healing process by opening up the blood vessels. This process will lead to more oxygenation helping in the regeneration of tissues in and around the area.  Warming up the area will also also relax the muscles and avoid muscles spasms. The Sol-R Instant Heat Compress is a great option for Heat Therapy. 
Use heat therapy in case of:
  • In case of re-occurring pain
  • Muscle spasms 
  • Stiff Joints
  • Chronic muscle pain
How to apply it:
  • Apply it for no more than 20 minutes. (only a physical therapist can tell you if you can apply it for longer )
  • You can apply dry or moist warmth but moist warmth will penetrate faster, better and will not dry your skin as dry heat. 
  • You may use a heating pad, gel packs, hot water bottle, microwaveable heating pads, electric heating pads. 
  • Don't burn yourself.  Use heat that you can tolerate without burning yourself. 
  • DO NOT use heat if there is swelling in the injury or area.