Thursday, July 5, 2012
Icing versus Heating
I thought I would talk a little bit about icing versus heating. Most people are very clueless as to what they do and why we do either.
When we have swelling in our bodies it is due to stasis of fluids. This can happen because of poor excretion of fluid, an excess production of fluid or both.
When we have an acute injury or flareup (which would be a recent injury or a re-exacerbation of an old injury) we usually have both too much production of fluid and poor excretion. This is our bodies way of bringing lots of nutrients to our injury and protecting the area. Unfortunately it usually does too good of a job which leads to pain and swelling.
Chronic injuries (which would be an old injury that hasn't healed) we have poor excretion usually due to damaged tissue such as scar tissue.
OK, so now what does ice and heat do?
Ice is a natural anti-inflammatory. It slows production of fluid which in turn decreases swelling. BUT then you have no excretion of fluid either.
Heat does a great job at increasing circulation to an area which helps excretion of fluids, but also helps to increase production of fluids as well.
For acute injuries your body is already producing too much fluids so you don't need to heat. In fact it would cause increased swelling. Icing would be your friend. Icing 10 minutes every hour during the acute phase of an injury would be a good start until you can see your physician.
For chronic injuries heat works really well. BUT you'll only have temporary relief because you'll have an increase in circulation which helps to excrete waste products but will also increase production of fluids. Most people notice when they heat that they felt more range of motion or decreased pain temporarily but then became stiff and sore again. Now you know why. SO the solution to that problem is that in the chronic stages of healing/pain you should alternate heat and ice. Heat 10 minutes and ice 10 minutes. This will help to excrete fluids, but then slow the production of fluids. It has to be in that order as well because it will flush the waste products then decrease swelling. The best form of heat would be a moist heat such as a bath, shower, hot tub, etc...
If you have any further questions about what I discussed here, please feel free to contact me at (612)590-5881.