Heat Vs. Ice

A common question we get asked is “Should I apply heat or ice to my injury?” Generally, we advise patients to apply ice to recent injuries. To understand why it’s best to choose ice over heat, it is important to understand the resulting symptom of having an injury, which is inflammation. Many of our patients show signs of at least two symptoms of inflammation, including:

  1. Redness
  2. Heat/Fever
  3. Swelling
  4. Pain
  5. Loss of Function

When ice is applied, it reduces inflammation by decreasing swelling, numbing the pain (at least temporarily) and initiating healing faster. Since two of the symptoms of inflammation are fever and redness, heat is not the best choice since the injured area is already hot. As a general rule of thumb: anything you would take an anti-inflammatory medicine for, consider applying an ice pack for 20 minutes at a time.

Watch Dr. Davis Kinney explain the benefits of applying ice to injuries: