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  • Dr Gi Ming Chan

Heat or Ice? Which is Better for Your Pain?



Have you ever found yourself with an ache or pain wondering, “Should I apply heat or ice?” Here we’ll explain which situations call for heat and which call for ice, as well as what to do if neither is helping.


First off, a general rule of thumb is to use ice for recent, acute injuries that are less than 6 weeks old and heat for long-term injuries that have been persisting for over 6 weeks. The reason is ice constricts blood vessels, numbing pain and reducing inflammation, which is what you need for a new injury. Heat, on the other hand, increases blood flow to relax tight muscles and aching joints. Heat can increase inflammation in certain injuries, so give us a call if you are unsure which to use for your particular injury.


Heat is often best for:

  • Arthritis

  • Headaches caused by neck spasms

  • Muscle spasms

  • Tendinosis

  • Relieving stiffness of strains and sprains after inflammation has resolved

Ice is best for:

  • New injuries

  • Strains and sprains

  • Sports injuries

  • Throbbing headaches

  • Gout flare-ups

  • Tendinitis (commonly in the shoulder, elbow, knee, and wrist)

Applying Heat and Ice

An ice pack or bag of frozen peas makes a great ice pack that molds to the injured area. Conversely, a warm bath, heat wrap, or heating pad can be used for heat therapy.


Apply heat or ice for 20 minutes at a time, taking a break of at least 20 minutes in between sessions. Remove the heat or ice if it becomes uncomfortable and do not apply ice directly to the skin, wrap it in a lightweight cloth or towel.


When the Pain Isn’t Improving


If at-home heat or ice therapy isn’t improving your condition, give us a call. We’ll get you in for a visit to see if we can help.

Don't Let Those Nagging Injuries Hold You Back From Being Your Best Every Day.

Schedule an appointment with our Cranberry Twp doctors today.

P:   724-553-5312

F:   724-553-5861

  • Appalachia Chiropractic & Wellness
  • Appalachia Chiropractic & Wellness

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Gigliotti Plaza

20120 Route 19 Suite 202

Cranberry Twp, PA 16066