As a general rule, if you have a new injury or a flare up of an exciting condition you should apply ice as soon as possible.
The aim of applying ice is to:
- Reduce bleeding into the tissues
- Prevent/reduce swelling
- Reduce muscle spasm and pain
- Reduce pain by numbing the area and by limiting the effects of swelling
After 24-48 hours if you are finding ice helpful and relieving then you can continue. However, if you are no longer finding ice beneficial you can try alternating hot and cold (see below).
How to ice effectively:
- Apply ice/ice pack as soon as you can following onset of pain.
- Do not apply an ice pack directly to the skin. Wrap a tea towel or t shirt etc around it, or place on top of a wet flannel.
- A gel ice pack or wheat bag (follow manufactures instructions) or bag of frozen peas work well.
- Aim to apply ice for 15-20minutes every 2-4 (waking) hours for 24-48 hours.
- Whist applying ice check the area every 5 minutes for redness. If the area is red than remove ice pack to prevent ice burn.
Hot and Cold Contrast
The aim of hot and cold contrast is to promote circulation, relax tight muscles and reduce pain.
- For a hot pack, a wheat bag or gel hot pack (follow manufacture instructions), hot water bottle with a cover on or towel around, or a hot wet towel can be used.
- For cold/ice – a gel pack, ice or bag of frozen peas can be used. Do not apply directly to skin.
- Apply heat for 3 minutes, followed by 1 minute cold. Repeat 3-5 times. Finish with cold.
- If you have more time and really like the heat then you can apply heat for 5 minutes then cold for 2minutes. Repeat 3-5 times. Finish with cold.
Prolonged direct heat should not be applied. This can have an irritating effect.
If you are unsure what to do or you dislike the ice then do not hesitate to contact RNO for advice.