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How many minutes should I use heat or ice to treat my injury?

A good rule of thumb is that you should use heat or ice for no more then 20 minutes. Use caution to ensure that you do not cause any damage to the skin by using either heat or ice for too long of a period of time. Once you go numb, you have used the ice long enough. When using heat, you should never be uncomfortable or have a feeling as if the area affected is burning.

Ice will reduce pain and swelling. Apply an ice or cold pack right away to prevent or minimize swelling. Apply the ice or cold pack for 10 to 20 minutes three or more times a day. After 48 to 72 hours, if swelling is gone, apply heat to the area that hurts. Do not apply ice or heat directly to the skin. Don’t apply heat for longer than 20 minutes, unless your doctor or physical therapist recommends longer.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.