Hot or Cold? The age-old, oh my gosh, I just pulled a muscle and what should I do now question? I try to remember "current/ cold" and "history/ heat" referring to when the accident happened. Cold therapy is normally recommended by doctors to help reduce swelling and relieve pain directly following an injury and you apply heat therapy after the swelling has subsided helps speed the healing process.
Once the swelling has stopped increasing (usually at the 48 hour mark, but may vary depending on the severity of the injury), a combination of hot and cold therapies can then be applied to help reduce the swelling that has occurred. The hot and cold therapies work together as a type of physiological pump to assist in moving the blood out of the area.
The cold therapies reduce circulation to an area (vasoconstriction) while the hot therapies increase circulation to an area (vasodilation). The alternating cold and hot therapies act together to pump the extra fluid out of the injured area.
The important part is in the grouping of the cold and hot therapies. Hot and cold therapies are safe for injuries of the extremities (foot, ankle, wrist, hand) however they are not designed for full body involvement. The stead fast therapy rule is to always begin and end the treatment session with a cold therapy. In between each cold therapy is a hot therapy. A typical treatment would include three ice/cold therapies and two hot/heat therapies. The time for each treatment is three to five minutes with a total treatment time of fifteen to twenty-five minutes.
Thermophore Automatic Moist Heat Pack, you can enjoy intense moist heat without adding any water. The Thermophore Automatic Moist Heating Pad features an easy-to-use hand held switch: simply press and hold to activate the therapeutic heat, and release to deactivate. The Thermophore Pad produces moist heat automatically by drawing moisture from humidity in the air and retaining it in the outer fleece cover. The Heat Pack produces moisture for 20-30 minutes. (Heat Therapy)
Ideal for hot flashes, post workout cool down, or cool off on a hot summer day by placing the Carex Pillow Cool insert directly on (or under) the body, head, or feet. There are numerous uses for the Pillow Cool including relief from headaches, migraines, fevers, sun burns, back pain, and more! This pillow cooler won't bunch up while you are sleeping thanks to special non-slip backing. The Carex Pillow Cool insert is easy-to-use, reusable, durable, and simple to clean. (Cold Therapy)
ThermalSoft Durapak Hot and Cold Packs For heat therapy, place the Durapak into the microwave or into hot water; for cold therapy, place the pack into the freezer and when ready, wrap a towel around the pack before placing on the skin. This hot and cold pack does not contain any liquids or dyes and is biodegradable and non-caustic. Ideal for use at home or in a medical office, the ThermalSoft Durapak provides therapeutic benefits for all types of injuries or muscle pains.
So in summary, after a pulled muscle, joint sprain, or traumatic tendonitis, when swelling is noted, a good rule of thumb is to use cold therapy for the first 48-72 hours (acute period), or until after swelling and pain have peaked. Thereafter, heat therapy may be more advisable, as one enters the sub-acute phase (3-7 days), or for prolonged symptoms lasting beyond a week.
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