TO HEAT OR NOT TO HEAT – THAT IS THE QUESTION!

Hamlet may have had his issues to grapple with, but one of the most common questions we get asked at Tamborine Mt Physiotherapy is, ” Should I use heat or cold on my injury?”

Placing something cold at an injury site causes the blood vessels to narrow. This reduces blood flow in the area and helps to reduce inflammation and swelling. Conversely, heat therapy promotes blood flow to the area and helps with loosening and relaxing of injured muscles.

So to understand which therapy will work best, you need to think about the nature of your pain and how long you’ve had it.

Basically, in the acute phase of an injury with spraining, straining or bruising, cold packs are best for reducing pain and inflammation especially when used as part of the RICE method……Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

Heat packs are not recommended in the acute phases of injury because the increased blood flow they cause can lead to increased swelling and pain. However, once your injury is no longer acute (after 2-3 days), heat is the better option due to reducing muscle tension, and stiffness and pain in the joints.

So it seems that both cold and heat have a role to play in your rehabilitation. They just need to be stage managed in the right order so you can be the star of the show.

For experienced and professional care of your injuries make an appointment with Gary or Mandy at Tamborine Mt Physiotherapy – 5545 0500.