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Ice Packs vs. Warm Compresses For Pain

Obtained from: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/
conditions/adult/orthopaedic_disorders/ice_packs_vs_warm_compresses_for_pain_85,p00918/

It can sometimes be confusing whether to use heat or cold when treating sore muscles or an injury, but keep these facts in mind.

Heat

Types of warm packs or pads

Warm towel

Heating pad
Be sure to protect any type of heating pad device from coming in direct contact with the skin. Precautions should be taken to avoid burns, especially if you have nerve damage, such as from diabetes or other conditions.

When muscles work, chemical byproducts are produced that need to be eliminated. When exercise is very intense, there may not be enough blood flow to eliminate all the chemicals. It is the buildup of chemicals (for example, lactic acid) that cause muscle ache. Because the blood supply helps eliminate these chemicals, use heat to help sore muscles after exercise.

Cold

Types of cold packs

Ice towel

Ice pack or cold compress

When an injury or inflammation, such as tendonitis or bursitis occurs, tissues are damaged. Cold numbs the affected area, which can reduce pain and tenderness. Cold can also reduce swelling and inflammation.

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