Should I Use Ice?

When should I use ice? What’s the best way to apply it? Should I be using heat?


These are questions I hear every day. Now you have the benefit of have this document to refer to. Feel free to share it with your loved ones.

Ice is good for:
  • Acute Pain - pain that started suddenly and is less than 72 hours old.
  • Areas that are swollen, hot and red, even if older than 72 hours old.
  • Pain older than 72 hours could need ice (swelling), heat or a combination, so it’s best to contact an expert in these cases. 
The safest and most effective way to apply ice is explained below:

Place the ice pack in the freezer for 2 hours, or according to manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively you may use a bag of peas/vegetables. However, it is not as effective.
Take the ice pack out of the freezer and cover it with a wet facecloth. This will protect your skin. Apply the ice directly to the site of injury. Now wrap a dry bath towel over the ice pack and body part being iced. 
Keep the ice pack on the area for 10-15 minutes. Do not exceed 20 minutes. If at any time you develop itchiness, hives or difficulty breathing cease the application of the ice and if symptoms are not improving call the office. 

Make sure you wait at least 2 hours between applications. Repeat the above steps 3 - 4 times per day if required.

If you are getting towards the end of the night and still experiencing discomfort, it is better to ice the area again one to two hours before sleeping. When you are sleeping, you aren't moving. This means that your inflammation is not moving out of your joints. Icing before sleep will reduce the potential soreness the next morning. 
When in acute pain, DO NO ‘H.A.R.M’:
  • No Heat
  • No Alcohol
  • No Running
  • No Massage

If avoiding these is not possible, at least minimise them. Regular light movement is recommended.