How to Treat Pain With Cold And Heat

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Hi, I'm Todd Townes, one of your expert fitness professionals on Sharecare and I'd like to talk about treating pain with ice or heat. Clients often ask me whether ice or heat is best for pain and injury. Actually, it depends. Both can be beneficial at different times. For injuries or pain less than 24 hours old, the safest choice is generally ice and for no longer than 30 minutes.

This method also works well for any injury that continues to produce swelling. Ice decreases pain and helps limit the amount of swelling that occurs immediately after an injury. Heat helps relax muscles and is best used on postural muscles like those along the lower back, mid back and neck.

Muscle soreness and spasms are the most common symptoms treated with heat. This method can also help with asioartritis to increase range of motion and therefore decrease pain. Heat should also be applied for only 30 minute intervals. Keep in mind though that when heat is applied over an area of acute injury, when it just occurred, inflammation and swelling can get worse.

When in doubt, consult your physician or a medical expert on Sharecare.