When you injure yourself, you may reach for a hot or a cold pack.
Which option is better?
Depends on the nature of your pain, what caused it and how long you’ve had it.
Heat therapy, sometimes called thermotherapy, involves applying heat to an injury or painful area on the body. Cold therapy, or cryotherapy, can come in the form of water bottles or pads cooled in a fridge or freezer.
Placing something cold at the injury site causes the blood vessels, arteries and veins, to narrow. This reduces blood flow through the area and helps reduce inflammation and swelling. Adding heat to the area has the opposite effect: opening the blood vessels up and increasing blood flow through injured tissue.
These opposite effects are useful in different situations.
Cooling down to prevent inflammation
Cold pack can be useful when we want to limit the initial swelling and pain, since too much or prolonged swelling can impede the healing process. But with less severe injuries like minor sprains and strains, inflammation is part of the body’s healing process and continuing cold therapy can be a barrier to recovery.
When to warm up
Heat therapy is not recommended for acute management of sprains, strains or contusions as this promotes blood flow and can increase swelling and pain.
Heat therapy can help chronic conditions such as recurring joint pain, neck or back pain.
If pain is due to a strain or sprain, cold therapy should be applied immediately, but heat therapy can help relieve pain from 72 hours post-injury.
Heat therapy can be very effective for muscle tension or joint stiffness — increasing blood flow and heating muscles or joints for around 15 minutes before physical activity as a kind of warm up. This approach can also help people engage in activities that might aggravate a chronic injury by loosening and relaxing injured muscles.
Alternating Heat and Cold Therapy
Here at Biorelief we offer our Bed Buddy Aromatherapy Hot Cold Pack Carex recommended by doctors. The pack provides cooling comfort or moist heat combined with therapeutic scents to bring soothing, deep relief from the aches and pains caused by sore muscles, joint stiffness and even arthritis.
Available in a range of exciting colors, the Hot and Cold Pack’s filling consists of 100% natural grains, flowers and herbs. Aromatherapy scents added will calm, comfort, heal, uplift, invigorate or purify.