Using Heat or Cold for Chronic Muscle Pain

Know When to Choose Heat or Cold for Pain Relief

Getting pain relief is your top priority when facing chronic pain. Spraining a ligament, straining a muscle, hurting your back, or having a severe headache makes your entire body shut down at times. It’s challenging to know if it’s best to apply ice or heat at times. At Greater Maryland Pain Management, we offer tips to our Maryland patients to know when it’s best to apply heat or cold for chronic muscle pain. If you want to eliminate your pain, call us today to learn more.

Getting Pain Relief From Chilling or Heating

Sometimes you can alleviate pain with over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers or prescription medication. It’s usually best to further your pain relief by applying ice or heat to your aching joints and muscles. If your conditions don’t continue to improve, contact us for more treatment options.

Treating Acute Injuries

Acute injuries usually happen quickly, so the pain shouldn’t be chronic. The number one rule is never to use heat on acute injuries because the additional heat might cause inflammation, delaying healing. If your injury is less than six weeks old, it’s best to predominantly ice the injury. The chill of the ice helps constrict blood vessels, numbing pain and helping to relieve inflammation.

Icing Headaches

When you need an extra step for headaches, it’s best to use ice. Place a cold mask or wrap it around your eyes, forehead, and temples. If you experience neck pain or a neck spasm from a headache, you can put a heat wrap around it to help relieve the pain.

Muscle Strains and Sprains Combination Treatment

Muscle strains and sprains benefit from using a combination of ice and heat. It’s best to start with an ice pack to ease inflammation, tenderness, and redness. After the inflammation reduces, switch to a heating pad to relieve muscle stiffness.

Treating Arthritis

Arthritis causes inflammation in joints, causing stiffness and pain. Moist heat in a bathtub is best to help pain management. Make sure the water is hot but not enough to burn your skin.

Ice for Tendonitis

Tendonitis painfully affects the connective tissues between your bones and muscles and bones. Shoulder pain or lower back pain are just two of the most common areas for tendonitis. Ice is the best method to help ease inflammation and numb the area.

How to Use Ice and Heat

The best way to use ice and heat is to apply for 20 minutes and then rest for 20 minutes. The most common icing and heating ways include:

  • Ice Packs – A frozen gel ice bag, ice cubs in a bag, or frozen vegetables are great forms of ice. It’s safe to ice problem areas as many days as needed using the 20-minute rule.
  • Ice Massage – An ice massage is done by freezing water in a plastic cup, peeling back the top, and massaging the area. This will numb the area helping to alleviate pain.
  • Heating Pad – The rule of a heating pad is to remove it if it becomes too hot next to your skin.
  • Moist Heat – A hot shower, bath, or immersion in a hot tub is perfect for helping relieve pain.
  • Heat Wraps – You can use a heat wrap around your neck or sit it on problem areas.

Contact Greater Maryland Pain Management

Chronic muscle pain is pain. We hope these tips for icing and heating areas of pain will help alleviate your issues. Greater Maryland Pain Management is a trusted clinic to help relieve your pain. If you need help, contact us for a consultation. We’ll get you on the journey toward a pain-free life.