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Should I use ice or heat pack for my pain?

Written by: Hayley Kwon

People often get confused whether they should use ice or heat treatment for an injury.


Ice treatment is most commonly used for acute injuries, that has occurred in last 48 hours. Ice helps with swelling and bleeding problems, and it reduces pain by numbing the injured area.


It can also help with chronic conditions by reducing the inflammatory process. However, it is not recommended to use ice for a chronic injury before activity where muscles are need to be warmed up.


Ice should not be directly applied on an injury, have a cloth covering the ice so you won’t get ice burns. Also, ice should not be applied for more than 30 minutes, remove the ice pack when the skin appears bright pink or red.


Heat treatments are used for chronic conditions. It helps to relax the muscles and stimulated blood flow to the area. It also helps to reduce joint stiffness and muscle tightness. Heat is not ideal to be used for an injury where inflammation is going on. Therefore avoid using heat packs for the first 48 hours after an injury. Make sure your skin is covered when using heat treatment to avoid burns.


Do not use cold or heat treatment

  • Over areas of skin that are in poor condition

  • Over areas of skin with lack of sensation to heat or cold

  • Over areas of the body with poor circulation

  • For diabetic patients

  • If infection is known


Ice or heat treatment does not solve the underlying problem of the pain. If it is necessary, please seek medical advice. At Osmosis Chiro, we can help with biomechanical injuries such as muscle spasm, low back pain and neck pain followed by an accident, overuse injuries and chronic pain.

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Tel: (02) 9264 7079