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Ice or Heat?

man holding his knee in painLife happens! Injuries happen! Of course, regular Chiropractic adjustments keep your body functioning optimally, helping you recover from any mishaps. When those injuries do occur, understanding when to apply ice or heat is very helpful. The two often complement each other when it comes to treating an injury. Applying heat when you should be applying ice can make your injury worse.


When? Ice is most effective when used in situations where it’s important to control inflammation of the tissue to reduce damage and numb the pain right away. Ideally, it should ideally take place immediately after the injury occurs, but you do have about a 24-hour window. Applying ice is effective at reducing pain and swelling because the cold constricts blood vessels and decreases circulation to the area.

How? Apply ice for 20 minutes, then take it off for 20 minutes. Repeat the process at those time intervals. Make sure you protect your skin by wrapping the ice pack in a towel.

Tip: If you don’t have an ice pack handy, a bag of frozen peas or corn will do the job.


When? Heat is typically used during the recovery process. (Applying heat immediately after a traumatic injury occurs may cause further tissue damage because the body tries to protect itself by creating inflammation to help it heal.) Heating a sore or injured muscle increases blood flow and metabolic activity which leads to a loosening of muscle tissue. Warming an injured area relaxes stiffness and relieves pain in aching joints, such as those affected by arthritis.

How? Moist heat is going to be your best bet, so try a hot water bottle or a hot shower to help bring you some relief. Duration should be about 15-20 minutes.

Tip: Applying heat after a chiropractic adjustment will probably help you feel great!

If you have any questions about the health or alignment of your spine or that of your loved ones, Dr. Erin McLaughlin and Dr. Pierre Paradis are here to help. If you live or work in Kanata and the surrounding area, contact us today or give us a call at (613) 831-9665.


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