Ice packs and warm compression for pain are used in different situations. When used correctly, both ice packs and warm compression can aid in reducing pain. It is important to know when to use each type in order to avoid injuring or causing more pain to yourself. Below are the differences between using an ice pack versus a warm compress and examples of when you should use each method.
– Decreases inflammation
– Decreases pain by numbing the affected area
– Reduces swelling by constricting blood vessels
– Reduces inflammation
– Reduces stiffness in joints and helps with muscle spasms
– Promotes healing
– Heat dilates the blood vessels and stimulates blood circulation
When to Use Each Method
Ice treatments constrict blood vessels and help to decrease swelling. Using an ice pack is best suited for injuries that are less than twenty-four hours old as an initial injury damages tissue and ultimately leads to swelling. Not using an ice pack can delay healing time if not taken action for. Cold compresses can be used for recent injuries such as bruises and sprains in order to reduce swelling.
Ice treatments also relieve pain by numbing the nerve endings which aid in decreasing pain such as with fevers or headaches.
Warm compresses are best used for relief of pain or injury that have no inflammation or swelling. Warm compresses are very effective in relieving sore or stiff muscles. “Hot compresses increase blood flow to the area and can increase the elasticity of the muscles and connective tissue surrounding the joints, thus minimizing stiffness and pain, and preparing the muscles to work more efficiently.” (6) Heat helps to relax and loosen muscles and are best used on muscles such as those located along the lower back, mid-back and neck. Warm compresses also give relief to arthritis, sore and stiff joints, and aids in the discomfort of muscle tension and cramping.
1. “Ice Packs vs. Warm Compresses For Pain.” University of Rochester Medical Center. Web. .
2. “Ice Packs and Other Cold Treatments- Benefits for Pain and Swelling.” HubPages. Web. .
3. “Should You Use Ice or Heat to Treat an Injury?” Discovery Health, Web. .
4. “Compresses.” Web. .
5. “When to Use Hot or Cold Compress.” MicroSurgery Spine and Pain Institute, Web. http://www.microsurgeryspineandpaininstitute.com/when-to-use-hot-or-cold-compress/.