Everyone has aches and pain at some time in their lives and some people will tell you to apply heat and others ice, so what should you do when you want that pain gone as soon as possible?
“Typically, if you have an injury that comes on suddenly, use ice in the first 48 hours to try to reduce swelling,” says Jessica Diethelm, MD, an internist at Rush University Medical Center. “Then, it’s whichever feels better for that particular issue.”
Dr Diethelm offers advice on how to handle three common pain-producing scenarios:
1. You step off the curb and sprain your ankle.
Here the advice would be to use ice (and elevation while you rest it initially) The ice pack should be wrapped in a towel to reduce the risk of frostbite but is useful as it can reduce swelling and fluid accumulation when soft tissues are injured.
2. You regularly awaken with neck pain and stiffness.
Persistent pain should be evaluated by your doctor or osteopath. If the cause is arthritis, a warm shower or heating pad applied for 10- to 15-minute periods may stimulate blood flow and relax muscles surrounding your joints. Ice can reduce inflammation and ease discomfort too. But in areas that lack much fat — your elbow, for example — application times around 10 minutes are best because longer periods may be more irritating than helpful.
3. After a day spent moving heavy furniture, you have back pain.
If the pain is severe, with leg weakness, loss of bowel or bladder control, or numbness and tingling in the legs — these are signs of a potentially serious problem that you should bring to your doctor’s attention immediately. If not you should be able to manage the pain yourself at home. Use ice for periods of ten-minute for the first 48 hours may numb the area, lessening pain — and that’s likely to be the priority when you’re hurting. If your discomfort is muscle-related and persists after two days, heat may help. If you are just a bit stiff and nice warm bath might relax you particularly if you add Epsom salts.