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posted by martyb on Thursday September 09, @06:09PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Hot pack or cold pack: Which one to reach for when you're injured or in pain:

When you injure yourself, you may reach for a hot or a cold pack. Which option is better depends on the nature of your pain, what caused it and how long you've had it.

[...] Cold therapy should be used for injuries that result in swelling and inflammation such as joint sprains, muscle strains or bruises. The objective is to slow blood flow to the area and prevent the effects of the injury. Gel packs that can be kept in the freezer, coolant sprays or even a bag of frozen veggies will do the job.

It is important to avoid holding ice in direct contact with the skin for long periods as this can cause skin damage. It is best to wrap ice in a cloth and then apply it.

Cold therapy is most effective in the immediate or acute phase of pain when swelling and inflammation first kicks off. Typically, the treatment should be applied for about 20 minutes and can be reapplied every two hours for a few days. After that, the injury should be well into the healing phase and the swelling and inflammation will subside.

[...] Heat therapy is not recommended for acute management of sprains, strains or contusions as this promotes blood flow and can increase swelling and pain.

Heat therapy can help chronic conditions such as recurring joint pain, neck or back pain.

If pain is due to a strain or sprain, cold therapy should be applied immediately, but heat therapy can help relieve pain from 72 hours post-injury.

Heat therapy does not mean applying something very hot, rather it should be warm, pleasant and easily tolerated for long periods.

[...] The take-home message is that cold packs work well for reducing pain and inflammation in the acute phase of a strain, sprain or bruise—especially when used in as part of the RICE method.

Heat packs are useful for reducing muscle tension and stiffness and pain in the joints, but never in the initial phase of an injury. There is not enough evidence to show alternating the two is particularly useful, while cold water immersion therapy may help recovery after sport or sustained physical exertion.


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 09, @06:16PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 09, @06:16PM (#1176340)

    Shaq recommends both.

    Really either will have a nice placebo effect, which is probably what's really happening here for most of us most of the time.

  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 09, @06:27PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 09, @06:27PM (#1176344)

    It cures all ailments. A player goes down in obvious excruciating pain, and a brief fog application of this miraculous product and they spring right back up acting as if they were never in pain in the first place! It relieves instantaneously and cures headaches, neuralgia, couch, cold, sneezing, hiccups, gout, gonorrhea, diphtheria, dimpling, mumps, measles, whooping cough, tuberculosis, and even Bowden's Malady! It's a dessert topping, it's a floor wax!

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by DannyB on Thursday September 09, @07:04PM (3 children)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday September 09, @07:04PM (#1176350) Journal

    If you have some kind of chronic pain . . . SEE YOUR DOCTOR. Get a diagnosis. Maybe see a specialist. You might discover you have something rare. Like a rare form of arthritis. (like myself) Or who knows what else it might be.

    If you have something serious enough, there are great treatments and drugs. Especially for things that will be with you for the rest of your life. Out of control raging inflamation? There are drugs for that! Lots of drugs. About 15 years ago my specialist worked with me to find the right potent anti inflamatory that was right for me. I tried several. Even flip flopping between two drugs for a bit.

    Pain? There are good drugs for that, if it is necessary. Just use self control.

    --
    Never use a needlessly simple solution to a problem when a much more complex solution would suffice.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @04:58AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @04:58AM (#1176883)

      Did you try a full elimination diet to see if the inflammation was food based?

      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Monday September 13, @06:37PM (1 child)

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Monday September 13, @06:37PM (#1177462) Journal

        It is genetic. Not food based. There is a specific genetic test for it. This is why your doctor should send you to a specialist if it is chronic. Especially if it is any kind of arthritis. The specialist will know all the right questions to ask and tests to perform.

        Once I had a diagnosis, it explained a number of previously unexplained issues I had noted over the years. He asked questions that got me to realize "oh, yeah, I had that happen to me once, and none of the doctors could explain it!" Just as an example.

        --
        Never use a needlessly simple solution to a problem when a much more complex solution would suffice.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 15, @10:58AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 15, @10:58AM (#1177965)

          Thanks.

  • (Score: 1) by HammeredGlass on Thursday September 09, @07:24PM

    by HammeredGlass (12241) on Thursday September 09, @07:24PM (#1176354)

    None of this is new information.

  • (Score: 2) by Snotnose on Thursday September 09, @07:57PM (2 children)

    by Snotnose (1623) on Thursday September 09, @07:57PM (#1176367)

    I have 2 packages of frozen peas in my freezer marked "don't eat". That warning probably isn't needed as both have the printing worn off after 2+ years of being used as an ice pack. When injured one works for about 30 minutes, back into the freezer it goes, the other one comes out for another 30 minutes, into the freezer it goes, and by then either the ice pack isn't working or I can get 10-15 minutes out of the first one. Now that I think about it, I think they were frozen stir fry veggies. We'll never know, the packages are grayish white and if I opened them I suspect the mush inside would be unidentifiable.

    I should head to the $0.99 cent store and buy 2 more packages of frozen stuff, then toss the old ones.

    --
    The skulls of my enemies are much more enviromentally friendly than plastic cups. just sayin.
    • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Thursday September 09, @08:18PM (1 child)

      by Gaaark (41) on Thursday September 09, @08:18PM (#1176375) Journal

      My mommy kisses my boo-boos and makes it all better. And by my mommy i mean my wife.

      And by my boo-boos i mean, well....... :)

      --
      --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
      • (Score: 2) by Snotnose on Thursday September 09, @08:34PM

        by Snotnose (1623) on Thursday September 09, @08:34PM (#1176377)

        Little boy, 2-3 years old, is trying to go to the toilet by himself. He just gets it over the edge when WHAM!! Seat falls on it. Kid goes running off "mommy mommy! Kiss it, make it better!". Kid's mother says "Shut up, you're getting more like your father every day.

        / Thank you Redd Foxx
        // One of the first of your jokes 12 y/o me understood
        /// Still funny

        --
        The skulls of my enemies are much more enviromentally friendly than plastic cups. just sayin.
  • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Thursday September 09, @08:46PM (1 child)

    by Opportunist (5545) on Thursday September 09, @08:46PM (#1176379)

    Isn't this kinda the, ya know, geek corner? If you have tips for carpal tunnel or for sitting-induced back injury, ok, but do you think I pulled a muscle by lifting a 19" rack?

    • (Score: 2) by choose another one on Thursday September 09, @09:25PM

      by choose another one (515) on Thursday September 09, @09:25PM (#1176387)

      No "I pulled it lifing a fully loaded rack" is what the geek tells the doc, but they _know_ it was pulled picking up a "gaming" laptop or repositioning a large monitor.

      You know the only reason screens went "flat" was because no known team of geeks could actually move anything bigger than 24inch trinitron, right?

      If it wasn't for geeks' being allergic to gyms we'd all be using gorgeous 48inch (or larger) trinitrons now, sigh...

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