Ice vs. Heat for Injuries

Ice versus Heat


A very common question in a chiropractic office is whether you should you use ice or heat for pain? The decision might seem fairly simple, but do you really know what method is best for treating your situation?

First, you need to know a little bit about the types of pain. There are two different types of pain caused by injury. \

1. Acute Pain- occurs immediately or within a few hours and is short lasting in duration. Acute injuries usually results in swelling, inflammation, redness, and tenderness.

2. Chronic Pain- develop slowly and usually last longer than 6 months. Chronic injuries result in symptoms of a dull pain or ache.

So how does ice and heat work for the body? Ice reduces swelling, bruising, and constricts blood vessels which prevent blood flow to the muscles. Heat treatment stimulates blood flow to the area of injury by opening up the blood vessels and relaxes muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Ice treatment is most commonly used for acute injuries. Ice packs can help decrease swelling to the injured area and increase the healing process. There are some cases in which ice can help with chronic injuries. However, it is recommended to ice the injured area after activity to help control the inflammation.


Heat treatments are most commonly used for chronic injuries. This will help stimulate blood flow, loosen tissues, and relax injured areas.  Heat will help relax muscles and allow tightened areas to release and loosen up.

Always remember, when in doubt, ICE. And after you ice make sure you call to make an appointment with your Bozeman Chiropractor to get checked out.



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