When should I use hot therapy vs. cold therapy?
A good rule of thumb:
- Cold therapy for acute pain
- Heat therapy for chronic pain
- Always use heat therapy prior to an activity to loosen up your muscles,
and cold afterward.
For acute pain, the Soft Ice® Compression Wrap
provides short-term pain relief for soft-tissue injuries. Cold
compression aids in reducing swelling, bleeding, spasms and pain. Apply
as soon as possible after an injury has occurred and continue for 48 to
72 hours. (See the following question, "What should I do if I suffer an
Heat or Moist Heat Therapy
should be used for chronic conditions such as muscle discomfort or
stiffness. Applying heat to an area effectively opens up the blood
vessels allowing blood to flow freely to the affected area. This
increases circulation, delivering an increased supply of oxygen and
nutrients and removing waste from sore, fatigued and injured muscles.
Many doctors recommend alternating cold and moist heat therapy for
chronic pain as well - 20 minutes of cold, 20 minutes off, and then 20
minutes of moist heat. Combination therapy is an effective treatment
for repetitive strain injuries, and can help with the pain of
arthritis. For acute pain, once the swelling goes down, alternate cold
therapy and moist heat therapy as described above. Our Drug-Free Pain Relief Kits provide the synergistic therapeutic benefits of cold compression and moist heat.
What should I do when I suffer an acute injury?
A common recommendation for all first aid and acute injuries is known
as the R.I.C.E. method: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. When you
are hurt or are in pain, R.I.C.E. is the key to the four basic methods
of speeding injury recovery and reducing pain:
Resting is important immediately after the injury for two reasons:
First, rest is vital to protect the injured muscle, tendon, ligament or
other tissue from further injury. Second, your body needs to rest so it
has the energy it needs to heal itself most effectively.
This is the best method for soft-tissue injuries. Cold can provide
short-term pain relief. It aids in reducing swelling, bleeding, spasms
and pain. Apply as soon as possible after an injury has occurred and
continue for 48 to 72 hours. Most doctors recommend 20 minutes of cold
therapy followed by 20 to 60 minutes off.
For a severe injury, immediate compression (pressure) is important to
decrease bleeding and keep fluids from pooling in the area. Compression
should be continued throughout the day and removed at night.
Elevation: Elevating the injured area above the heart helps reduce internal bleeding and swelling.
Soft Ice® Compression Wraps provide a comfortable,
convenient and effective method of implementing a R.I.C.E. regimen. Our
patented Soft Ice® Packs stay soft and flexible even right out of the
freezer, providing greater contact, heat transfer and comfort than ice
or cheaper cold packs.
24 to 48 hours of R.I.C.E., many injuries will begin to heal.
pain or swelling does not decrease after 48 hours, consult your primary
care physician or go to the emergency room, depending upon the severity
of your symptoms.
What should I do if I suffer from chronic pain?
Heat or Moist Heat Therapy should be used for chronic conditions
such as muscle discomfort or stiffness. Applying heat to an area
effectively opens up the blood vessels allowing blood to flow freely to
the affected area. This increases circulation, delivering an increased
supply of oxygen and nutrients and removing waste from sore, fatigued
and injured muscles. Moist heat therapy can be effective in treating
back pain caused by muscle strains and spasms. Arthritic and thematic
pain is often temporarily relieved with the use of moist heat.
Apply Polar's Thera-Temp® Microwaveable Moist Heat Therapy Wrap
to the targeted area for twenty minutes, repeating as needed after a
twenty minute break.
Many doctors recommend alternating intervals of cold and moist
heat therapy: twenty minutes of cold, twenty minutes off, and then
twenty minutes of heat. Our Drug-Free Pain Relief Kits provide the synergistic therapeutic benefits of cold compression and moist heat.
Please Note: This information is not intended as a substitute for
professional medical treatment or consultation. Always consult your
physician in the event of a serious injury or whenever using cold or
hot therapy for a medical condition.