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Cold or heat to treat an injury

Having presented the issue and expose separately from the therapeutic application of heat and cold comes time to clarify a very common question we’ve all ever thought: How do I know whether to apply heat or cold to treat an injury?

In general, there are lesions improve with cold, sometimes heat, and in other cases both techniques can be beneficial. To know whether to apply heat or cold to an injury just you have to have a few things clear.

Cold or heat to treat an injuryCold application

Here is a quick summary of what transpired in the specific article on cryotherapy. Overall we will want to apply cold to a pain, right after a stroke, fall … The cold relieves acute pain sensation and help if there is swelling (local trauma inflammation).

Examples of situations in which to apply cold : a fall, blow, sprain ( “twist”), muscular “tug” to relieve muscles and joints after intense training, to relieve some headaches …

Do not forget that the cold alters sensitivity and can cause burns , so it is important not to place it directly on the skin, and monitor the area every few minutes to check the integrity of the skin.

Applying heat

Summarizing commented on the specific article on thermotherapy, we can say that, in general, apply heat in muscle or joint pain in which there is no inflammation , swelling in the area. For example, a muscle spasm, relieving joint pain (cervical, lumbar, knee osteoarthritis …).

There are doubts in some cases because, for example, the cold acts as a muscle relaxant in the short term but medium and long term is heat better. In a “pull” muscle during sports, it is better to apply cold at the moment but, in after hours, the heat will have a sedative, relaxing more lasting effect, plus the sensation of heat is much nicer. Also, in a muscle spasm it can relieve cold, but the heat will produce a more comfortable and durable feel.

As a general rule, cold is the criterion for election to an injury curse inflammation, swelling, pain … during the first 72 hours. Then, if these symptoms have been significantly reduced, it is possible that heat can help, and it is more pleasant. If continued pain and swelling, it is best to continue to apply cold.

If the injury is muscular type but more in the sense of pain for the daily efforts (the classic muscle contractual, or accumulation of tension in the area), it is best to apply heat from the first moment. Never forget the possibility of burns, so will have to check the area every few minutes. In addition, the heat acts lowering blood pressure, so, depending on the area and how it is applied, can cause dizziness, even fainting.

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