Treating Sports Injuries with Ice and Heat

By Erick Babin posted 19 days ago

  

Sports require vigorous activity and exertion. The risks of sustaining injuries in the process are high. This is partially why you should familiarize yourself with treating different injuries with heat or ice. Knowing some basic information could mean the difference between a rapid or slow recovery time. 

Pain levels immediately after the injury will also be impacted, dependent on whether they are treated with heat or ice. Appreciation of the appropriate time to treat with heat or ice is another important consideration. Here are a few pointers to get you on the right track to responding appropriately to sports injury treatment.

Acute sports injuries and frequency of ice pack applications

Use ice packs for acute sports injuries. Examples of acute injuries include a sprain, which has occurred within the past two days. In this situation, the use of an ice pack will help to reduce inflammation and swelling. 

Bleeding into surrounded tissues will also be reduced, decreasing the chance of nasty bruising. Additionally, pain and the potential for muscle spasming will also be decreased considerably.

The sooner an ice pack is applied after an injury, the better the results will be. Also, apply an ice pack frequently during the first two days of injury to help minimize negative side effects such as bruising, inflammation, pain and swelling. 

Chronic sports injuries and ice packs

You can apply ice packs to chronic sports injuries as well as acute traumas. This is appropriate in cases where a chronic injury has taken place because of the overuse of a muscle or joint, for example. Once an injury has occurred and sufficient time has not been assigned for healing and treatment, repeat injury is a major risk.

Using an ice pack on a chronic injury will help to manage the inflammation levels without medication. A word of warning, though, a chronic sports injury should not be subjected to ice pack treatment immediately prior to activity. Further damage is likely to occur if you don’t observe this advice.

Purchase handy ice packs to have on hand

If you’re often involved in outdoor activities, then it is best to invest in handy icepacks to take with you on your trips. If you go hiking, having ice pack coolers with you will help to reduce swelling in the case of an injury. Don’t apply the icepack directly to the injury, and always move it around so that ice burns don’t add to the patient’s pain. 

Keep the ice pack moving around the injury for approximately 30 minutes and reapply every 3 to 4 hours. Another consideration is not to use icepacks on the left shoulder of anyone who is known to have a heart problem. Neither should ice packs be used at the front or around the sides of the neck.

Heat pads for sports injuries

In contrast to using ice pads for chronic injuries, heat pads and treatments are also used to treat chronic injuries. Heat pads can be applied to relieve the symptoms of chronic sports injuries to improve blood flow to the affected area. Tissues can be made more flexible with heating to relax and promote blood flow to reduce the potential for additional injury. 

Also, heat treatments are advisable before engaging in activities. Do not use heat treatments after an energetic activity has taken place. Heat pads should be applied oppositely to ice pack treatments in other words.

When not to use heat pads

Don’t use heat pads on the skin that is clearly not in good condition (abrasions or burns, for example). If the area is known to be particularly sensitive to heat or cold, then get medical attention rather than use a cold or heat pad. Avoid the use of heat pads when the person is known to have diabetes, if an infection is present or circulation is poor in that area.

Make sure the heated pad is not so hot that it will cause further injury. Don’t use a heat pad in the presence of swelling, as this will attract further blood flow to the area and increase the swelling. Don’t ever use heat to relieve acute sports injuries.

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