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Ice or Heat?

In my Grand Rapids chiropractic clinic, I am often asked whether a patient should use ice or heat.  The answer depends on inflammation.  If you have any inflammation, and you put heat on it, you will increase the swelling and create a bigger problem.  Many people put heat on acute injuries and make the problems much worse.

For chronic muscle soreness, heat is ok.  The problem becomes in identifing whether there is inflammation or not.  If you can visibly see swelling, then you know.  Sometimes redness will also identify swelling.  The safe route is to just never use heat.  That way, you will never cause the inflammation to increase.

The other problem is that heat feels good, and ice feels, well, cold.  And in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we get enough cold weather, so people don’t want to put ice on them too!  Putting heat on any injury will typically make it feel better, as the heat helps sedate the nerves.  However, the temporary feel good can turn into a chronic feel bad if you increase the inflammation.icepack

A good rule is to just use ice.  Do 20 minutes on, 40 minutes off, for 4 cycles.  Don’t leave the ice on too long, or you will create inflammation with the ice as your body thinks it is getting frost bit!  A good ice pack with velcro can help keep the ice in place while you go about your daily chores.

Dr. Michael Kwast is a Grand Rapids chiropractor and CEO of iChiro Clinics.  He is the author of the book, 7 Beliefs Destroying Your Health, and a wellness lecturer for radio, TV, and numerous companies in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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