Coordinated Health

holding ice pack on knee

Should You Use Heat or Ice for Muscle and Joint Pain?

December 3, 2018

Heat therapy and cold therapy are two common pain-relief methods for joint and muscle pain. But how do you know when you should break out an ice pack instead of plugging in the heating pad? Coordinated Health athletic trainer Bryan Schapley explains what you need to know.

Heat Therapy

“Heat therapy, also called thermotherapy, is used to relax muscles and help lubricate the joints. It’s used to help relieve muscle and joint stiffness. Applying heat to the body stimulates blood circulation to the injury site. The blood has nutrients to help aid the healing process and and make it quicker,” Schapley explains.

Use heat therapy to:

  • Relax muscles
  • Treat chronic pain and achy muscles
  • Stimulate blood circulation to help heal injuries quicker

Cold Therapy

“Cold therapy, also known as cyrotherapy, is used to treat new or immediate injuries. A cold compress is applied on and off in intervals and slows down blood flow to the injury site. This helps to control swelling, numb nerve endings, and reduce the build-up of fluid,” Schapley says. 

Use cold therapy to:

  • Treat new or immediate injuries
  • Control swelling, numb nerve endings, and reduce fluid build-up
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