Ice

Best when on an acute injury (sports injury, sprained joint, fall or other impact, whiplash from a car accident) has resulted in acute inflammation in the area of injury.

Signs of acute inflammation include:

  • visible swelling or swelling that you can detect with your fingers
  • redness or other signs of irritation
  • a change in skin temperature, usually with the affected area feeling warmer than the surrounding areas
  • reduce swelling and inflammation
  • reduce redness and irritation
  • reduce pain

Heat

Best when you must cope with chronically stiff muscles or joints, or if your pain increases as the weather becomes colder. Heat helps to:

  • increase circulation to the affected area
  • bring fresh nutrients to an area that is healing
  • relax chronically stiff muscles and joints to improve function

Alternating Heat and Ice

The theory behind combination (or contrast) therapy is that alternating cold and hot stimulates circulation. Ice drives blood and fluids out, and heat draws them in, creating a pumping action in the tissues which, in turn, promotes healing. You should use combination therapy only when your physician recommends it for a specific ailment.