Ice or Heat for an Injury?
“Ouch I hurt! Should I put ice or heat on it?”
Patients ask me this every day. It depends on how long you have had the injury. The book says for new injuries and acute injuries 48 to 72 hours use ice. After two to three days apply heat. The bottom line is muscles love heat, the nerves like ice.
How do you apply it?
It’s really simple. You don’t want it on bare skin typically. If you have a shirt on you can put the ice right over that. Or the heating pad – we actually have special blankets to put them inside. Apply it anywhere you want.
How long should you leave it on?
A hand is very different from the lower back. Use 5-minutes for a hand, wrist, or elbow, 10-minutes for the neck or a shoulder, and 15-20 minutes for the lower back. You can repeat once an hour as long as it gives you relief for as long as you want.
Dr. Michael Petrie, D.C.
Spine and Joint Center