Hot & Cold Treatment
We may treat everything from arthritis to pulled muscles to inflammation with ice packs or heat packs. Treating pain with hot and cold can be extremely effective for a number of different conditions and injuries, and easily affordable. The tricky part is knowing what situations calls for hot, and which calls for cold. Sometimes a single treatment will even include both.
As a general rule of thumb, use ice for acute injuries or pain, along with inflammation and swelling. Use heat for muscle pain or stiffness.
Alternating Hot and Cold Therapy is Good for Injuries
Both heat and ice have their uses in treating injury. In order to understand the benefits of contrast therapy, it’s useful to know exactly when and why heat and ice work for pain relief—and when they don’t.
How to treat strains and sprains
Injuries to the soft structure around the bones and joints are commonly called strains and sprains. They are often associated with sports activities.
Strains and sprains
Signs and symptoms of sprains and strains
- pain and tenderness
- swelling and bruising
- difficulty moving the injured area, especially if it’s a joint.
What to do
Resting a strain or sprain
R – Rest the injured part. Help them to sit or lie down and support the injured part in a comfortable position, raised if possible.
Putting ice on a strain or sprain
I – Apply an Ice pack. Try and cool the area by putting an ice pack, or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a tea towel against the injury. This can help to reduce the swelling, pain and bruising.
Supporting a strain or sprain
C – Provide Comfortable support. Leave the ice pack in place or wrap a layer of soft padding around the area, such as cotton wool. Secure the ice pack or soft padding with a conforming bandage that covers the area to the next joint, but make sure it’s not too tight by checking their circulation every 10 minutes. To do this, press a nail or skin beyond the injured area for five seconds until it goes pale. If the colour doesn’t come back within two seconds, loosen and reapply the bandage.
Elevating a strain or sprain
E - Elevate the injured part. Support the injury in an elevated position to help minimise swelling and bruising. You could do this by placing pillows underneath the injured part.
First aid - call 999 or 112 for emergency help
After using the RICE method, advise the casualty to rest. If the pain is severe or they cannot move the injured part, seek medical advice.