Hot or Cold?

by Rebecca Brown
(Nevada, USA)

I was in a car accident four months ago and have been going to both acupuncture and physical therapy since. My physical therapist recommends ice or ice/heat to the muscles but leaning heavily to ice. My acupuncturist recommends heat or ice/heat but leaning heavily to heat.

Thoughts on this?

Sue-Anne's reply:

Studies have shown that both heat and cold therapies are equally effective in reducing pain. However, deciding which one to use depends on the nature of your injuries. Acute pain is temporary and gradually wanes as healing occurs. Chronic pain, ranges from mild to severe and can last a lifetime if the underlying cause is not remedied.

Generally, cold applications are used in the acute phase, the first few days following the injury, or acutely inflamed joints or muscles. It will help reduce both swelling and pain. It helps relieve inflammation and muscle spasms.

Heat increases blood flow and improves flexibility and pain tolerance. Heat is not recommended for people with acutely inflamed joints as it increases circulation and aggravates inflammation. However it can be used around the shoulder area to relax tendons before stretching.

The way your body responds to each of the therapies could be an indication of which is best for you. I hope the information helps, but without knowing the exact nature of your injuries and where you are at in your recovery it is difficult for me to recommend one over the other. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

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