Everything You Need to Know About Hot and Cold Therapy

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When it comes to injuries or chronic pain, people often get the advice to apply a hot or cold compress or another form of temperature treatment. They are especially recommended for people with joint or muscle damage. But how do you know whether to reach for a heat pack or a frozen bag of peas? The golden rule is that ice is used for inflammation and acute injuries, whereas heat is used for muscle and joint pain. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Here’s everything you need to know about hot and cold therapies for treating pain. 

The Basics of Cold Therapy 

Cold therapy or “cryotherapy” can be administered via cold packs, cold baths, ice massages, or cooling sprays and gels. Other cooling treatments can be obtained where you get your prescription drugs in Michigan. Putting something cold on an injury helps reduce swelling and inflammation because it slows down the blood flow to that area. Cold compresses or other cold treatments also help reduce pain because they somewhat numb the nerves of the affected area, causing them to be less active. 

Don’t Use Cold Therapy If… 

  • You have a sensory disorder: If you have a sensory disorder then you should not use cold therapy. A sensory disorder makes people unable to feel certain sensations, which may mean that they would be unable to recognize if the treatment that is being applied is damaging their skin. Diabetes may cause people to have a sensory disorder that could impact their ability to feel damaging degrees of hot or cold. 
  • You have muscle or joint stiffness: cold therapy could magnify the stiffness and result in more pain.  
  • You have poor circulation: cold therapy lessens the blow flow to the site of the injury, if you use cold therapy that could increase your poor circulation. 

How To Apply Cold Therapy 

If you are using a cold pack or a bag of frozen peas, make sure to wrap it in a towel. Placing something frozen directly onto your skin could result in skin damage. If you are injured apply the cold therapy to the injury as soon as possible because it can help immediately reduce inflammation. 

Do not keep the cold pack or compress on the injury for longer than 20 minutes at a time. However, it should be applied multiple times a day. If possible, you should also elevate the injury. 

If you are still experiencing a lot of pain and inflammation 48 hours after your injury or you need medication assistance in Michigan, seek the help of your doctor or the place where you get prescription medications in Michigan. 

The Basics of Heat Therapy

Heat therapy increases blood flow to the site to which it is applied. Using heat can quell discomfort and even improve muscle flexibility. That’s why people like to take warm baths after a long hard day. Heat therapy even has the power to expedite the healing of damaged tissue. Keep in mind, heat therapy should never be hot. Placing something hot on your skin could potentially inflict damage to the tissue. Rather, all heat therapies should be warm. 

There are many ways to apply heat therapy. Here are a few examples: 

  • Heat packs
  • Heat pads
  • Saunas 
  • Hot baths
  • Warm or steamy towels

Heat therapy can be applied locally or directly to the soreness (a heat pad or pack would be ideal for local treatment), regionally (steamy towels could be used for regional treatment) or it could be applied to the whole body (a sauna or a hot bath would be ideal for whole-body treatment). 

Do Not Use Cold Therapy If…  

  • You are bruised or have an open wound: Cold treatments are better for inflammation caused by acute injuries. 
  • If you have one of these conditions: Some conditions put people at a higher risk of burns or heat application complications, they include: dermatitis, MS, diabetes, or vascular diseases.

How to Apply Heat Therapy 

Unlike cold therapy, which should be kept on the site of an injury no longer than 20 minutes, heat therapy can be applied for extended amounts of time. 

There is no limit for which you can apply heat therapy (keeping in mind that heat therapy should never be hot, only warm). However, usually people feel relief from muscle stiffness and pain within 15-20 minutes of applying therapy. If you are in a lot of pain, you could probably benefit from a longer warm bath (around 40 minutes). If your pain persists, contact the place where you get prescription drug delivery in Michigan, they might be able to help, or direct you to a knowledgeable professional that can. 

Sometimes the Answer is Both 

It’s true! Sometimes your doctor may recommend alternating hot and cold on the site of your pain or injury. This is because it increases the flow of blood to the site of the injury, which consequently helps it heal faster. 

The Takeaway

The bottom line is: use heat if you are struggling with muscle pain or stiffness and use cold to treat acute injuries and inflammation. Remember, if the hot or cold therapies do not give you an adequate amount of relief, contact your doctor for advice. Keep injuries elevated and ice them, but do not put ice directly on the skin. Heat can be used for an unlimited amount of time, but always make sure the heat therapy is never hot. If you have an ailment that you think should be treated with hot or cold therapy, reach out to your local financial assistance pharmacy in Michigan. They will get you on the right track to being pain-free!

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