When you’re in pain, you just want it to stop right away. We do recommend that your first step should be to call us and schedule an appointment. But assuming we can’t see you that instant, what can you do in the meantime? Often, we might recommend either ice or heat. But which one fits your circumstances?

Use ice for… A relatively new acute injury. The cold will constrict blood vessels, which lessens inflammation and keeps bruising to a minimum. The sensation will also numb the pain a bit.

With headaches, an ice pack is often helpful to reduce the throbbing.

Use heat for… Acute injuries older than six weeks). Using heat on a newer injury can actually increase inflammation in a newer injury. If the injury is older, the increase in blood flow can relax stiff joints, improve range of motion, and help tight muscles to relax.

For tension headaches, a moist heat wrap can sometimes work better than ice. The heat relieves tension and spasms in the neck, which cause tension headaches.

Remember to use ice and heat therapy for about 20 minutes each, and take breaks. Always remove ice or heat if the sensation becomes uncomfortable.

These techniques can help you deal with pain in the short term, but remember that prompt attention is necessary to diagnose your exact injury and begin a treatment plan to heal it. While you’re using heat or ice to address your discomfort, go ahead and call us to schedule an appointment so that we can begin treatment as soon as possible.