Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cold or Hot?

When you're injured and feel painful, you probably know to put ice around the injured area. The question is do you continue to apply cold or start hot treatment afterward and for how long and how often? Your body begins to repair itself when you're injured. The damaged area received increased blood flow that can result in inflammation. Although inflammation is part of the natural healing process, it can also lead to swelling and pain. That's when cold and hot therapies come to rescue.

The initial treatment that doctors recommend is R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression and elevation) and referral for medical treatment. Cold therapy applied immediately to an injury can reduce inflammation and pain. After applying cold to the injury for a period of time and if the swelling has subsided, you may start to apply heat to increase blood flow and circulation, speed up the healing process, and promote flexibility.

But before you reach for the hot pack, here's some general guideline. Cold therapy is effective in reducing the pain and swelling due to inflammation. It also helps relieve chronic discomfort or soreness as a result of arthritis, back pain, neck pain and other joint and chronic pain. In some cases, it's helpful by alternating cold and hot therapies. e.g., muscular sprains/strains, post-surgical pain, injuries and other acute pain. Hot therapy is used to relieve pain and restore flexibility for specific conditoins such as arthritis, cramps, muscle aches and menstrual cramps. Physical therapists also recommend hot therapy before exercise to increase mobility and then cold therapy after exercise to decrease aggravation.

As always, seek medical professionals or post-rehab specialists/trainers for advices to your specific conditions.

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