ICE vs Heat
Have a sprained ankle? Now what? Do you apply Ice or Heat to your injury? In the following article we will discuss ice vs heat and the application and benefits of both.
Ice can be used at any time of the injury process and should be considered especially in the first 72 hours of your ankle sprain. Ice tends to help with inflammation and swelling because it restricts blood flow to the applied area. It is also used a form of pain control because it can numb the area that it is applied to. Ice therapy can consist of several types of applications, regular Ice, Blue Frozen Gel Packs, frozen bag of peas, or ice water bath immersion. One should take precautions to protect the skin and place some sort of a barrier between the ice and the skin and can ice an injury for 15-20 mins every hour as needed for pain and swelling.
Heat works in the opposite way and should be considered for injuries that have not occurred in the last 72 hours. Heat applied to an area causes increased blood flow and can ease pain around joints. Heat also helps with pain because it brings warmth to joints and muscles that love to be warm and not cold. Heat can be applied in several forms that may include a heating pad, moist towel, hot tub. One should also take precautions with heat because it can burn sensitive skin and can also lead to increased swelling and possibly delayed healing. Heat can be applied to the ankle for 10-15 mins as needed to help with pain and range of motion.
When should I see a doctor?
If you have been using Ice for longer than 3 days and your ankle sprain has not improved in swelling, tenderness, or pain you should then call and get an appointment to be examined by a Healthcare Professional to rule out a more extensive injury.
As a final note you can always use ice and heat for other injuries, not just an Ankle Sprain. Ice within the first 3 days and heat can be used after. Ice for decreasing swelling and heat for stiff joints and muscles. If you find that these are not working come and see us at Advanced Orthopaedic Specialists for an evaluation of your injury.
Written by, Chad Fink ATC