Many of our patients ask us if applying heat or cold to their problematic area/s will help their condition…
Our advice is that while it may sound preferable to use a cosy hot water bottle than a freezing-cold ice pack, the ‘hot option’ can actually have a negative effect – especially when used at the wrong time!
Muscles which are sore and inflamed need to be cooled down, so adding more heat will only aggravate the condition. Applying cold does no harm, as it acts as a natural pain relief – slowing blood flow and cooling inflamed areas.
With this in mind, we recommend that ice packs – or even towel-wrapped items from the freezer, such as a bag of peas – are applied to any joints in the affected area/s. Using heat can be beneficial as well, but only when used correctly.
For instance, heat packs can alleviate problems with ongoing muscle-related injuries, but do steer clear of this decision if the injury is new, as the affected muscles often become inflamed to start with, and will feel very tight – therefore, the ‘cold option’ will help relax the muscles before any further treatment is undertaken.
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