Ice is nice for the first 48 hours after an injury to get the swelling down. Swelling comes from an increase in fluid or blood flow to an area, which slows down recovery and causes discomfort. The extra fluid makes the joint stiffer, weaker, and more painful. Ice reduces the swelling--and the pain.
After the initial 48 hours of ice, some docs recommend ice, and others recommend heat to loosen up the joint or muscle, giving you more flexibility and allowing you to move freely during rehabilitation. That’s why a hot shower or bath is so soothing by the third day after an injury. However, we don’t recommend heat until the swelling has gone down.
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