Ice or Heat?

Health Tip:  What should I use, ice or heat??

Many patients often ask me what to do when an injury first occurs.  Generally, I tell them to use ice, but more specifically, follow the “R.I.C.E.” principal:

R = Rest

I =   Ice

C = Compress the injured area with an Ace wrap/bandage (not too tight!)

E =  Elevate the injured area above the heart, if possible.

RICE can be applied to injuries for approximately the first 72 hrs. following the onset of the injury. Ice will decrease the immediate swelling, and also decrease the pain by numbing the area. Extremity injuries can be submerged in water, but remember these rules, “CBAN:” Cold, Burning, Aching, and Numb.  You will go through these stages.  WHEN YOU REACH THE NUMB STAGE, REMOVE THE INJURED PART FROM THE WATER.

Heat can generally be used, either by itself or alternatively with ice, after the first 72 hrs.  There are some exceptions to this, so be sure to ask me or your physician what is recommended.  When heat is applied to a new injury, it often feels good, but it actually increases the swelling by causing the blood vessels to dilate in those areas.  Keep these tips in mind the next time an injury occurs.

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