Heat and Cold Therapy

Using a heating pad, or using an ice pack can be simple ways to effectively reduce pain. Here are some guidelines on when and how to use heat therapy and cold therapy.

General Guidelines:

Heat is most commonly used for muscles that feel stiff or sore, and for persistent pain. Heat can be a relaxing way to reduce stress and tension.

Ice is most commonly used for new injuries, and when there is swelling, redness, and if an injured area feels hot. Ice can also be used for overuse injuries, such as shin splints, and plantar fasciitis.

You’re the expert on you! The most effective treatment for you is going to be your own personal preference. If you feel that one helps you over the other, or that one does not help, use your best judgment.

If a treatment makes symptoms worse, discontinue using that treatment.

Heat Therapy:

  1. Heat your heating pack according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Wrap the heat pack in a light layer of fabric (dish towel, or old t-shirt) for comfort and skin safety.
  3. Place the heat pack on the affected body part.
  4. Leave the heat pack on for 20 minutes.
  5. Allow the tissues to return to their normal temperature before applying another round of heat therapy.

Cold Therapy:

  1. Cool your ice pack according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Wrap the ice pack in a light layer of fabric (dish towel, or old t-shirt) for comfort and skin safety.
  3. Place the ice pack on the affected body part.
  4. Leave the ice pack on for 10-20 minutes, or only until the affected area feels numb to the touch.
  5. Allow the tissues to return to their normal temperature before applying another round of ice therapy.