Yalich Clinic – Moist Heat or Ice?
Moist Heat or Ice?
The Eternal Question…
A question commonly asked by patients is should I use moist heat or ice? We are hoping to remove the mystery of this with the following information:
If the pain is either very strong, throbbing, stabbing or sharp these are indications of either nerve or muscle inflammation. Also used in acute injury. In these cases, ice is most effective.
If the pain is a dull ache which is hard to locate and associated with muscular tightness, this is indicative of muscular spasm. Also used in chronic pain. In these cases, heat is usually most effective.
Ice is generally recommended to be used from 15-20 minutes on, with at least 15-20 minutes off until the area warms or until normal sensation returns. Repeat as needed. This usage is based on your discomfort.
Moist Heat may be used for 15-20 minutes on and approximately 20-60 minutes off between applications. This usage is based on your discomfort.
- First 24-72 hours (acute) of any new injury use ICE. The following 72 hours either may be used, if an absence of inflammation.
- If either ice or heat is irritating, discontinue immediately until you consult with your Doctor.
- Use moist heat, NOT dry heat.
- A convenient ice pack is made by freezing a water filled zip-lock bag, flat like a magazine.
- When using ice, cover the ice pack with a moist towel. Do not let it directly contact the skin.
- Other forms of ice usage include ice massage (no more than 5 minutes) and immersion in ice water (55-65 degrees). Consult your Doctor for proper use
Using these guidelines, hopefully will make it easier for you, the patient, to decide whether to use heat or ice. If you have any specific questions, please ask your Doctor.
These are recommended as general guidelines and should not be considered as total treatment.