ICE vs. HEAT – Part 2

Last week, I weighed in on the benefits of ice to treat an injury. In this blog entry, I’m continuing the Ice vs. Heat debate telling you what I tell my patients about the use of Heat!

In my practice I use heat on my patients prior to treating them. But it doesn’t stop there. A day doesn’t go by where I don’t recommend heat to help manage someone’s pain or condition.  90 percent of the conditions I see in my office would be classified as a repetitive strain injury or chronic (with the other 10 percent being acute). Heat is the  key when treating repetitive strain or chronic injuries! Heat will increase blood flow, relax muscles, decrease pain and promote healing.

Dr. G’s Tips on when/how to use heat:

  • use for chronic injuries, if you have tight muscles
  • use before activity to warm up muscles, not after activity
  • use at night before bed if you often wake up with stiffness
  • heat should be applied for 15-20 minutes but can be used for longer (if you use an electrical heating pad, be sure not to fall asleep on it as they can cause burning)
  • Apply the heat to the area that is the problem…going in a hot tub/sauna or generally applying the heat to a larger area will not have the same affect (as mentioned earlier the goal of using heat is to increase blood flow to the affected area, this can not be achieved if heat is applied to a larger more general area)
  • recommended to use moist heat rather than dry heat (e.g. Hot water bottle, gel packs, etc)

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