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When to Ice an Injury and when to Apply Heat 



An age-old question for anyone who’s been injured is this: “Should I use ice or heat?” The answer to this question depends on your symptoms. There are a number of ways to tell if your injury needs hot or cold compress, and we’ve compiled a few tips here. If you ever have any doubts about the condition of your injury, visit our team at Motus Integrative Health. We’ll help you feel better in less time. 

What Kinds of Injuries Can Be Treated Using Hot or Cold Compress?

Some injuries warrant the immediate attention of a health professional, such as those that broke the skin, involve broken bones, severe bruising or occurred on the head. In these cases, don’t attempt to treat the injury yourself—visit a doctor as soon as possible. In cases of minor injuries, a few home remedies can help immensely. Visiting a chiropractor can also help since you’ll have access to all kinds of services designed to help your body heal.   

How Cold Therapy Works 

Before we dive into the differences in hot and cold compress, it’s important to understand what each option does. Cold therapy involves using ice packs, coolant sprays or ice baths to reduce blood flow to a particular part of the body. In the case of an injury, the cold compress will prevent too much fluid from being retained around the injury site, which in turn reduces swelling and inflammation. The cooling effect can also reduce nerve activity, which helps to improve pain.   

When and How to Use Cold Therapy 

With all this in mind, cold therapy is best used on injuries that are likely to swell. Any kind of acute injuries, such as those sustained from playing sports or after a fall, are effectively treated using cold compress. Applying ice is most effective immediately after the injury happens. Elevating the injury will also help to reduce discomfort. 

How Heat Therapy Works 

Essentially, heat does the opposite of what cold compress does. Heat will cause the blood vessels to expand, which promotes circulation to the affected area. In turn, you’ll have less pain and better flexibility. Additionally, heat helps the muscle heal, which will speed up your recovery.  

When to Use Heat on An Injury

Heat tends to be a great choice for muscle stiffness. If you accidentally pulled a muscle, or if you woke up with a sore neck due to a poor sleeping position, try using a hot compress. You’ll likely experience a significant reduction in your symptoms as the circulation to that area improves. 

 Talk to Our Team for More Information

Deciding whether to ice or apply heat to an injury is easy if you know what effects you are looking for: reduced or improved circulation. If you ever have doubts about how to treat an injury, we’re here to help. Motus Integrative Health offers first-class health services to promote better health in all of our patients. Don’t hesitate to reach out for a chiropractic appointment


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