One of the most common questions I am asked by patients is whether they should use ice or heat on an injury. Both heat and ice improve healing by manipulating blood flow, reducing inflammation, and reducing pain. Knowing which one to use when, though, will keep you from possibly doing further damage.
Ice should be used on acute injuries (injuries that have occurred within the last 72 hours.) Its aim is to limit the body’s response to the injury. It does this by reducing further bleeding into the injured tissues, preventing or reducing swelling, and reducing muscle spasm and pain. Ice should also be used for chronic conditions (arthritis, tendonitis, overuse injuries in athletes), but after activity.