When experiencing pain or certain muscle injuries, the immediate treatment that we can think of is the accessible remedies that we can find at home. In that case, hot or cold therapy is surely included in the list. However, the application of these remedies comes with confusion.
The improper use of hot or cold therapy may lead to further aggravation of injuries. Thus, it is very crucial to distinguish the situations that call for either hot or cold therapy or for the combination of both.
As an overall guideline, the use of cold therapy is indicated for acute injuries with inflammation and swelling. While for the heat therapy, it is often used for muscle pain or stiffness.
When you experience acute or sudden muscle injuries, it should be treated with cold therapy immediately. Cold therapy constricts the blood vessels and reduces the flow of blood to the site of injury. Thereby reducing inflammation and swelling. I could also ease the pain by the numbing the nerve endings. Thus, limiting the pain signals to the brain. Cold therapy should be applied for 20 minutes following an injury approximately 3-5 days. Depending on the severity of the injury, it should be re-applied regularly, every 1-3 hours.
Heat therapy can enhance the circulation and blood flow to the injured area. It can relieve discomfort, increase muscle flexibility, improve ligament elasticity, and heal damaged tissues. The use of heat therapy is recommended for muscle stiffness and soreness since it could loosen and relax the muscles. This treatment is also indicated for chronic pain injuries (injuries lasting 3 months or more). Heat therapy in the form of warm towel or hot packs can be applied 15-20 minutes on the affected area. The temperature of the hot packs should be initially checked in order to prevent suffering from burns.