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Old 07-17-2009, 02:17 PM   #1
Adam Carlson
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Heat vs ice

I've tried searching the forums as much as I can with my iPhone (slightly challenging), but no threads came to the top on this one: can someone list the why's, how's, and wherefore's of using ice or heat?

The reason I ask this is that just yesterday my back acted up something huge, and my chiropractor told me that my muscles had tensed up from getting chilled (and I had iced that area for something else) and were now pulling my back out of alignment.

So for what and when do you use heat, and ditto for ice?
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Old 07-17-2009, 02:31 PM   #2
Everett Steinbarger
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Re: Heat vs ice

The general rules are :

Ice for acute (Immediate) injuries.

Heat for chronic injuries.

I tell my patients to do whichever feels better. Putting heat on an acute injury will cause some edema, but it's temporary any way you slice it.

In the end ice vs. heat is up to you. I say if something makes the pain go away, do it.

I'm a firm believer in whatever works.
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Old 07-17-2009, 04:20 PM   #3
Steven Low
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Re: Heat vs ice

Quote:
Unless there's swelling in which case you want to use ice to keep inflammation down....

Muscles tend to respond best to heat by loosening up (whereas ice makes them contract). What happens with most injuries such as a strains, cramping, or destablization of ligaments, joints, etc. is the muscles themselves clamp down and contract to prevent movement thus protecting the injured area. While this is good to protect acute injuries, AFTERWARDS when we are trying to heal/treat the injury the tight muscles often lead to further dysfunction because the body starts compensating when muscles are tight.

Thus, if no swelling as previously mentioned we want to loosen them up, and that is done with heat.

You're right that ice is used for most stuff. Ligaments, tendons, bones, + swelling. Just muscles are the exception for the most part.
That's what I wrote a little while ago, but Everett's will work too. Shrug.
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Old 07-19-2009, 10:38 PM   #4
Kevin Bean
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Re: Heat vs ice

The physical therapist sitting next to me says to make sure not to ice for more than 20 minutes at a time otherwise muscle damage starts to occur.

We aren't going to open the can of worms about the alignment
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Old 07-20-2009, 10:48 AM   #5
Steven Low
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Re: Heat vs ice

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Originally Posted by Kevin Bean View Post
The physical therapist sitting next to me says to make sure not to ice for more than 20 minutes at a time otherwise muscle damage starts to occur.

We aren't going to open the can of worms about the alignment
Muscle damage?

I could see skin frostbite or something, but I dunno about muscle damage...
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Old 07-21-2009, 03:46 AM   #6
Kevin Bean
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Re: Heat vs ice

I dunno, she's the one with her doctorate in PT, not me She may have said tissue damage including muscle.

Last edited by Kevin Bean : 07-21-2009 at 03:51 AM.
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