How Can I Safely Apply Heat Therapy At Home
30 minutes of heat application should be enough to ease joint pain. You can do this 2 to 4 times a day until you feel better. Some options you can use at home are:
- Gel packs or hot water bottles. Just make sure to wrap them with a towel before placing them directly on your skin.
- Electric heating pad. Adjust its temperature to where it feels warm and relaxing, it shouldnt be painful or blistering hot to touch.
- Hot tub baths. If you have delicate skin or are prone to dizziness, set a timer to 30 minutes.
Pro-tip: Check your knee every few minutes during your heat therapy. A pinkish skin appearance is normal but red blotches are not. At this rate, you should discontinue your session.
Why You Should Use Ice On A Twisted Knee
Ice therapy helps reduce symptoms that come from acute injuries, including twisted knees. See, accidentally turning your leg on your planted foot can cause different injuries, such as:
- Knee sprains, an injury to your ligaments your joint stabilizers.
- Meniscus tears, the damage to your joint shock absorbers the menisci.
But, applying ice to your affected knee can relieve pain and regulate the inflammation that typically follows after a recent injury. This, in turn, can reduce swelling and help with recovery.
How Does Heat And Cold Help Arthritis Pain
Heat or cold therapy works by stimulating your bodys own healing force. For instance, heat dilates the blood vessels, stimulates blood circulation, and reduces muscle spasms. In addition, heat alters the sensation of pain. You can use either dry heat such as heating pads or heat lamps or moist heat such as warm baths or heated wash cloths.
Conversely, cold compresses reduce swelling by constricting blood vessels. While cold packs may be uncomfortable at first, they can numb deep pain.
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When To Chill And When To Heat
Many of these conditions are treatable with medication as prescribed by your health care provider. And, for other situations, over-the-counter pain relievers may be enough to help. But you still may need further relief so here are a few tips to keep in mind when deciding between ice or heat for aching muscles and joints.
Reminder: if any of these conditions are new or dont resolve quickly, be sure to contact your health care provider for more treatment options.
First of all, do not use heat on acute injuries because that extra heat can increase inflammation and delay proper healing.
When dealing with injuries, its best to predominantly choose ice if the injury is acute . The chill constricts blood vessels which numbs pain, relieves inflammation and limits bruising.
If youre sensitive to cold then ice may initially seem uncomfortable or even painful to apply. Heat can feel warm, cozy and be tempting to toss on an injury, says primary care sports medicine physician Anne Rex, DO. But dont be fooled! Ice wins to shut down swelling, inflammation and pain early on where heat may actually make an injury worse.
If youre dealing with lingering injuries then its okay to use heat. The increased blood flow relaxes tight muscles and relieves aching joints. This is especially helpful to improve range of motion on a joint that maybe isnt moving as well.
Prepare Your Ice Pack
You mustnt put an ice pack directly on the affected area. Instead, it would be best to wrap the bag in a towel to keep it from irritating the skin. You can choose to use an ice pack, a bag of frozen veggies, or even a bag of crushed ice. Regardless of what you choose, remember to cover it with some fabric before applying it to your hurt knee.
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Using Both Heat And Ice
In some situations, applying both ice and heat to your joint may be helpful. Called contrast therapy, this treatment involves alternating between icing and heating a joint. While this option has traditionally been utilized after exercise or participating in a sporting event to aid in recovery, it may be helpful for more chronic conditions as well. This style of treatment can be performed using hot and cold packs or by alternately submerging the knee in hot and cold water.
While individuals who received contrast therapy subjectively reported less overall soreness and muscular fatigue, the research is still mixed. The current evidence is lacking on whether this treatment is helpful in managing the pain associated with a knee injury or in reducing your inflammation levels.
When Can You Do Contrast Therapy For Knee Soreness
This is when you alternate ice and heat therapy to treat joint pain and soreness. The widening and contracting of your blood vessels from both temperatures theoretically creates a pump effect that improves your blood flow.
Although it effectively reduces soreness, one catch is that contrast therapy isnt any better than the other treatments.
So if this mode of recovery works for you, then feel free to use it daily.
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Heat For Knee Joint Pain
Research shows that heat activates nerve pathways responsible for relieving pain. It also helps loosen tight muscles and joints so you can move better.
Aside from pain, using heat therapy also improves blood flow around the affected area. This could increase the supply of nutrients to your knee and promote healing.
Heat provides several benefits that can help the knee in situations such as:
So Is Ice Or Heat Better For Pain
So…ice can help relieve pain, heat can help relieve pain, and ice and heat work in completely different ways so, in the debate of ice vs. heat, which reigns supreme?
When it comes to relieving pain, Dr. Brooks says the answer depends on the type of pain you’re experiencing and what you’re currently doing.
“For muscle or joint pain caused by exercise-induced tissue damage or arthritis, there’s a role for both ice and heat and knowing when to use which is as easy as following advice you’re already used to: Warm up before activity, and cool down afterward,” explains Dr. Brooks. “Before exercise or activity, use heat to reduce joint stiffness and improve joint flexibility. After activity, use ice to reduce post-exercise discomfort.”
Heat and ice also have a place in between activity and exercise.
“Since heat can help speed up the process of repairing damaged tissue and ice can help reduce the painful swelling you may be experiencing, I recommend rotating between heat and ice throughout the day as you recover from an exercise-related overuse injury,” explains Dr. Brooks.
And if your pain isn’t from exercise, but rather the result of tension in your muscles from sitting at a computer all day, Dr. Brooks recommends skipping the ice altogether and opting for the relaxation benefits that heat can have on tight muscles.
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When To Use Ice Or Heat
Whether youre on the playing field or in the house, the occasional bump, bruise, sprain or pang is inevitable. These injuries may be sudden or the result of overuse and gradual wear and tear. Fortunately, less severe aches and pains may not require professional medical attention. In fact, many common injuries can be effectively treated with ice therapy, heat therapy, or a combination of the two. However, knowing when to use heat or ice and whether to use ice or heat first can be tricky. In this post, we will explain the proper at-home care for many frequently asked sports injury questions, such as how to treat a sprained ankle and whether you should use heat or ice for muscle strain. Before we jump into treatment, its important to understand the symptoms and causes of many typical sports injuries.
When To Use Ice For Psa Pain Relief
Lets do a symptom check are your joints currently warm and swollen? Dr. Mala Kaul, a rheumatologist and speaker at the event, stated that cold packs should be used when joints are inflamed and feel hot. When there is inflammation, you want the blood vessels to constrict, so thats when cold is good. When you put something cold on the body all the blood vessels start to constrict, explained Dr. Kaul. This constricting can numb the area, ultimately dulling the pain.
She also advised that heat should never be used on an area that feels warm to touch. Heat to an area that is already hot can cause further swelling and redness.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, cold packs will help to alleviate pain by restricting blood vessels and slowing down circulation which decreases swollen joints and inflammation. It is also useful if the area which is flared feels hot, is red, or has a burning sensation.
Dr. Kaul warns one should never use a cold pack to joints which are stiff or if you have circulatory issues.
Cold packs, bags of frozen veggies wrapped with a towel, or ice baths for the affected areas are all adequate ways to relieve pain using cold temperatures.
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How Ice Can Help Relieve Pain
We all know that ice is great at numbing pain. Stubbed your toe? Grab an ice pack. Crushed your finger? Grab an ice pack. Banged your head. You guessed it: Ice pack!
But, according to Dr. Brooks, ice is more than just an analgesic. In fact, ice is particularly helpful if your muscle or joint pain is associated with the swelling that typically accompanies an exercise-related overuse injury or arthritis.
“Applying ice causes your blood vessels to narrow, decreasing blood flow to the area. In turn, this helps reduce the inflammation that causes swelling,” says Dr. Brooks. “Even if you can’t actually see the swelling, one of its symptoms is pain. This means that if you can reduce your swelling, you can reduce your pain.”
The most common way to use ice to help relieve muscle or joint pain is to apply an ice pack to the area for about 20 to 30 minutes. It’s important to stick to this time frame, since over-icing can lead to skin damage.
But Heat Therapy May Be Beneficial A Week After Your Injury
The acute inflammatory process starts to dwindle by then. So, using heat helps remove excess fluid and relieve pain, while improving blood flow to your damaged tissues.
Applying a heating pad for 20 minutes or wearing a thermal knee sleeve are some of the tools you can utilize at this point.
Keep reading: Is heat therapy good for knee pain?
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Should You Ice Or Heat A Knee Injury
If you have a knee injury, you may be wondering if you should ice or heat it. The answer depends on the type of injury you have. If you have a sudden injury, such as a sprain or strain, ice is the best choice. Ice numbs the area and reduces swelling. If you have a chronic injury, such as arthritis, heat may be a better choice. Heat increases blood flow and can help reduce pain.
Chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia and arthritis, as well as injuries and exercise, can all cause pain and discomfort. Applying ice packs to the sore area will decrease blood flow, relieving pain and inflammation. When you use a heating pad or hot water bottle, the blood pressure rises. Because it is easier to get oxygen and nutrients to the pained joints, oxygen and nutrients can be more easily distributed. If you are experiencing swelling, you may need to use ice for 24 hours before turning to heat. You should not use the heating pad for more than 10 to 20 minutes at a time. If you have aching joints or muscles, a hot shower or bath is also a good option.
While ice can be used as a vasoconstrictor, it is important to note that while it reduces swelling and blood supply, it also interferes with the bodys ability to access immune cells and thus the core of healing.
Both Hot & Cold Treatments Are Important
People get confused with how ice and heat work to relieve pain and heal. They also get confused with which temperature treatment is better for their injury and how to get the right amount of “ice” or “heat” for effective treatment.
When it comes to using ice and heat for treating knee injuries, it’s important to keep in mind that both ice AND heat are very effective ways to relieve pain and heal. Most people will think one is better over the other from their own experience or what a doctor / physical therapist has previously told them.
The only difference between using ice and heat is that 1 is better for you at a specific time in your healing cycle. Ice is used first, right when you get your injury, to decrease pain / swelling and inflammation. Heat comes later, to increase blood flow circulation and stimulate the body’s healing response.
So which is better?
They’ll ultimately work for you in the same way. Each temperature has its own unique benefits for your knee, and when used togther they provide a powerful advantage to long-term healing. You may already know that ice or heat feels better on your knee, and this could influence your decision too.
The bottom line is that ice and heat are exceptional, natural, pain relievers and healers for your knee injury.
There are cases where some injuries will respond better to 1 temperature over the other. We want to help clear up the confusion so you know which is better and how to get the most from your treatment at home.
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Sip A Mug Of Golden Milk
Nothing feels as good as a hot drink on a cold day and golden milk isnt just comforting the turmeric spice that gives the beverage its characteristic golden color has been shown to reduce arthritis pain, Dr. Martin says. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory. You can take it as a supplement but on chilly days, make it into golden milk, a traditional hot Indian drink made from any type of milk, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, and a dash of maple syrup. Turmeric showed measurable improvements in arthritis symptoms in a meta-analysis published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.
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Is It Okay To Use A Heating Pad After Surgery
Heating pads should not be used near a wound or when a surgical procedure is being performed. When the temporary solution is exhausted, unseen damage occurs. Burning beneath the skin can be caused by a variety of factors, but most of the time the cause is not obvious until the visible signs are present.
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How To Treat A Knee With Contrast Therapy
Since contrast therapy involves exposing the knee to heat and cold, there are various ways to do it. Most people prefer submerging the hurt knee in cold water and later in warm water. This is a cheap and quick way to administer contrast therapy. When using water for your contrast therapy, you must test the temperature of the water before submerging your knee.
Alternatively, heating pads and ice packs can be used. Regardless of which method you choose, consistency is critical for contrast treatment. By repeating both heat and cold therapies daily, you might be surprised by the results. However, if six weeks have passed without any sign of improvement or an increase in the discomfort of the knee is experienced, it is best to consult a doctor. Unfortunately, some knee injuries require medication.
See How Your Skin Reacts
Each of us reacts differently when using ice or heat, regardless of its duration. So you have to check your skins appearance every so often when applying any thermal device.
A pale to pinkish skin tone is normal during cold therapy. Meanwhile, it should be a shade of bright pink when you are applying heat.
If its anything outside this norm, like having blisters or allergies, then you should discontinue thermal therapy immediately. Get it checked by a doctor if your symptoms persist for days.
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Heat Therapy For Arthritis
Heat therapy is also effective in the treatment of arthritis. It should be applied twice or three times per day to reduce pain associated with arthritis, rheumatology, and gout. Apply a thin layer of the product to the affected area and gently massage it in until it completely penetrates the skin. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may not be effective if other treatments, such as physical therapy, medication, and even surgery, are required.
Instructions To Do Ice Therapy At Home
You can use cold packs, a bag of frozen vegetables, or frozen peas for this.
If its not uncomfortable, you could apply the cold pack directly to your skin. But if it is, place a thin towel or pillowcase between the ice pack and your skin to prevent burns.
In fresh injuries, its best to do this for 10 minutes, three times per day tops. Studies suggest that more than that may suppress the proper healing of the tissues.
For chronic conditions like gout or rheumatoid arthritis, you can leave the ice for longer.
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