Cold Vs Heat Therapy ?
Often you may wonder when you should use heat therapy and when cold therapy for pain! Confusing ?
Yes, but not so much. Read on…
When do we use cold treatment or cold packs?
We all may have past experiences of home remedies at respective homes. Children often get hurt while playing; they bruise themselves badly or suddenly collided against any hard surface or object, causing swelling and reddening. They come running home and mothers often use cold therapy from experience. They typically put some ice cubes or cold water over there, so that there is no bleeding; moreover, blood clots and swelling stops.
Cold therapy in the form of ice packs are generally applied when you get a recent injury and have an open and bleeding wound. Applying cold stops the blood flow to the area and helps in drying up the wound. Cold therapy also helps in reducing swelling of body area. Swelling happens due to heavy or hard impact such as falling on the ground or hitting your body against something hard.
Ice and cold packs can thus relieve pain, stop swelling and inflammation from injuries.
What about heat pads?
On the other hand, heat works in a different way and helps in circulating blood flow into the affected area. You apply heat generally in cases where there is a muscle spasm or stiffness which is causing pain. If the pain is on account of cramps or exercise or old age arthritis, (and clearly not an open wound due to recent injury), then you may use heat therapy.
Heat pads are very effective tools for delivering heat therapy in cost effective way. These are useful for such muscle pains in different body areas such as back, neck, shoulders or knees.
When do I see a doctor?
However, if you have chronic arthritis conditions or acute pain, it is best to consult your family doctor and ask what kind of pack you should be using – hot or cold. For certain arthritic conditions, doctors may recommend ice packs or an alternative between cold and heat pads.
Also, if someone gets hurt recently and there is a major injury in the nature of profuse bleeding, then see a doctor urgently. If there are chances of bone fracture or pain stays for more than 2- 3 days, then it is advisable to go for emergency medical assistance. In such a case, a doctor in the emergency ward or an orthopaedic doctor in a health clinic can provide right treatment.
How to use a cold pack at home effectively
Ice/cold towel: You can simply take a wet towel with cold water and squeeze it and apply when it is damp and cold. We use this often at home and this works. You can even freeze the wet towel for 15-20 minutes and use the same on injury area.
Ice/cold pack: Take few cubes of ice (depending upon the area) and put in a plastic bag or a piece of thin cloth or an ice pack which you can buy at a store. If using in an ice pack or bag, you can fill this with some water and use the pack.
Alternatively, buy cold pack or ice packs online
Alternatively, if you do not have time or want to have something you can use readily, then you can buy one ice pack online. There are a range of ice or cold packs available online. They are usually filled with grains, seeds or beads and you will need to store them in your freezer.
Nowadays, many different shapes and sizes are available in these cold packs so that you can use them for different areas of your body such as arm, knee or even eyes.
Or you can simply buy a bag which you can fill with ice and/or water, and use the same to affected areas.
Often it can be confusing to know when you should be using heat treatment and when cold treatment or therapy for relief from body pain. If you have fresh bodily injury with or without bleeding, then use cold pack. If the pain is due to physical strain or muscle spasm or old age arthritis, then use heat pad.