Solving The Age-Old Sports Medicine Question: Heat Pack Or Cold Pack?


With all of the topical analgesics available today, pain and injuries from sports have many options for relief. Still, when you do not have a cream to treat a sore muscle, you can reach for a soothing pack. Which do you choose? In what situations is a heat pack a better choice than an ice pack? It is an age old question which people continue to be perplexed by. The answers below help you best understand why you would choose one over the other.

When Swelling Is Present

Without a doubt, you have to use an ice pack first when swelling is present. If you twist an ankle or dislocate a shoulder, the fastest way to reduce swelling and pain is with the application of ice. That is because the cold causes the blood vessels in the area to shrink and slow down the flow of blood to the injured tissues, which is why the injured body part is swollen in the first place. If you are not sure swelling is present, try and compare the injured body part with its uninjured mate. If it is distorted in shape or appearance at all, apply ice right away and see a doctor.

When There is No Swelling or the Swelling Has Dissipated

If you have some really sore muscles but you are not certain they are injured, apply heat. Also, you can apply heat the second day after an injured part has first received ice packs and the swelling has gone down. If the swelling returns to an injured body part, switch back to an ice pack until no swelling returns. Then you can apply heat to alleviate soreness and stiffness.

When Heat Packs Definitely Are Not Recommended

Sports injuries that create flesh wounds should not be treated with heat packs. The heat increases blood flow and good circulation, and with a flesh wound you could be bleeding far too much for paramedics to help. Also, you should not treat concussions with heat packs as they could cause you to lose consciousness.

Visit a Health Care Clinic as Soon as You Can

Despite now knowing the when, what, and why of heat or ice, always visit health care clinics like Active Orthopaedics. When you want to continue playing sports, it is important to know what your injuries are so you can keep track of where your physical weaknesses rest. That way, you can prevent having to use your new-found knowledge of heat pack vs. ice pack, and just keep playing.


22 October 2014

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I'm not one to complain too much when my body hurts. But when I fractured my hip last year, I complained a whole lot. My broken hip kept me from being active in life. I felt completely helpless because I could no longer move freely or get around home without my family's assistance. After spending several months in pain, I saw an orthopedist for care. My orthopedist examined my fractured hip and found an infection in the joint. I underwent surgery to remove the damaged tissue and replace it with an artificial hip joint. Now, I feel so much better. My new hip gives me the freedom to move around again. If you have pain in one of your bones from injury or disease, read my blog. I show you how to find an orthopedist who can help you get back your life. Thanks for reading.