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Ice or Heat? Which is better?

When an injury first happens, such as a slip, fall or any other sudden onset of pain, it is better to use a cold ice pack.  This helps reduce inflammation and manage the pain. Using heat during this time will increase blood flow to that area and also increase inflammation and pain.
Ice should be used for the first 10-14 days following an injury, followed by heat after that when the swelling has subsided.  If your pain is chronic it is ok to use heat before exercise, but use ice to control inflammation following the activity.
Ice should only be used for 15 minutes at a time.
Do not use ice or heat:
  • Over areas of skin that are in poor condition
  • Over areas of skin with poor sensation to heat or cold
  • If you have diabetes
  • in the presence of infection
As always, if your pain persists or seems to be getting worse, have it evaluated by a healthcare professional.