Ask the Doctor...
Dear Dr. DiMaio-Reczek,
"As a patient, I see you often use ice and heat as therapies
in your office.
When should I use heat instead of ice as a treatment for my condition?"
This is definitely the question I get asked the most from my patients.
The short answer is...it depends. Your particular condition and symptoms
will dictate which of the two (or both) you will need to help you.
The application of ice or cold towels/compresses is done to reduce
the temperature of tissues right below the surface of the skin. This cooling
constricts blood vessels, numbs painful areas and helps relax muscle spasms
in order to reduce pain and provide temporary relief.
Ice should be used to manage recent injuries. As a general rule, apply
local cooling for 15-20 minutes several times a day during the first 24
hours. This will be effective in reducing and helping prevent swelling
Using heat raises the temperature of the tissues directly below
the surface of the skin. This helps to calm tissues suffering from long-term
spasms associated with chronic conditions. The benefits of heat are increased
flexibility, range of motion and increased circulation to help speed the
There are many methods to apply superficial heat such as hot packs, warm,
moist towels, heating pads and water bottles. Use caution when applying
heat and don't allow applications to last more than 20 minutes.
1004-A MacDade Boulevard
• Milmont Park, PA · 19033 • (610)-534-2273