Should I pick ice or heat? Ice is almost always safe, where heat can cause more damage to the area of injury. If you have an ice allergy or major vascular problem you should consult your physician first. Heat on the other hand is a great pain reliever but it increases inflammation. In conditions such as back injuries, sprains or strains and sports related injuries more inflammation equals more tissue damage and a longer period to heal.
So if you have low back pain or neck pain you should initially use ice until consulting with a physician. To use ice apply for 15 to 20 min. then leave off for at least an hour. If you use anything other than water ice put a towel or tee shirt between you and the gel pack. The gel pack is the temperature of the freezer and can give you ice burn otherwise.
It is important to remember that the acute phays can last several weeks due to re injury and does not necessarily fit the ice for three days while acute then use heat.
What is inflammation? according to the American heritage dictionary the scientific definition is “The reaction of a part of the body to injury or infection, characterized by swelling, heat, redness, and pain. The process includes increased blood flow with an influx of white blood cells and other chemical substances that facilitate healing”.This means that inflammation is part of the healing process and it is actually tied to removing noxious chemicals that are created when cells are injured. So the real questions are is inflammation good or bad and why is it important..
lets answer tha last question first. inflammation is “a local response to cellular injury that is marked by capillary dilatation, leukocytic infiltration, redness, heat, pain, swelling, and often loss of function and that serves as a mechanism initiating the elimination of noxious agents and of damaged tissue” according to Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary. So as we can see from both of these definitions inflammation is a critical component to healing. Without the inflammatory process the body would not heal. This is a critical component in the understanding of many of the conditions treated by chiropractic.
Lets answer the rest of the questions. Is inflammation bad? inflammation has certainly gotten a bad reputation and tis is manly due to the fact that inflammation has been linked to practically every disease process. It is also linked to chronic pain syndromes. Inflammation occurs in the body due to chemical imbalances, over consumption of sugar, inadequate intake of omega 3 fatty acids, nutritional deficiencies, and other such problems. So it is not inflammation that is bad but the things we do in our daily lives that cause inflammation to cascade out of control.
Should all inflammation be indiscriminately stamped out? It is obvious that we need inflammation the problem is that most conventional treatment for inflammation such as ibuprofen and steroids attach inflammation throughout the entire body. The primary way we address inflammation is by helping you to modify your diet and also by prescribing specific nutritional supplements that help “put the fire out” and get things calmed down. Ice is also a great way to control inflammation locally, like in a shoulder, foot or back. Be warned heat may feel great but it increases inflammation Ice is often the safer choice. You’re going to love the way you feel afterward! So contact your chiropractor and find out how to control your chronic inflammation.