Medical University of South Carolina Hospital logo
Home |  Video Library | Podcast Library | e-Newsletters | Classes & Events | About Us | News Blog | University & Colleges 
Contact Us | 843-792-1414
  

Patients & Visitors

Medical Services

Maps & Parking

Health Library

Physician Portal

Careers

Online Services
Health Library
Health Topics A to Z
Clinical Trials & Research
Tests & Procedures
Lab Tests & Results
Health Assessment Tools
Treatment Options
Symptom Checker
Health e-Newsletters
Podcast Library
Video Library
Health Library
Bookmark Page icon Bookmark |

Print this page icon

|

E-mail icon

Health Library : Orthopaedic Surgery

 

Ice Packs vs. Warm Compresses For Pain

Picture of a hot water bottle

When to use heat and when to use cold:

It can sometimes be confusing whether to use heat or cold when treating sore muscles or an injury, but keep these facts in mind:

Heat:
  • brings more blood to the area where it is applied.
  • reduces joint stiffness and muscle spasm, which makes it useful when muscles are tight.
  • helps to resolve inflammation.

Types of warm packs/pads:

warm towel

  1. Dampen a towel with warm (not scalding) water.
  2. Apply to the affected area to relieve muscle spasm.

heating pad
Be sure to protect any type of heating pad device from coming in direct contact with the skin. Precautions should be taken to avoid burns.

When muscles work, chemical byproducts are produced that need to be eliminated. When exercise is very intense, there may not be enough blood flow to eliminate all the chemicals. It is the accumulation of chemicals (i.e., lactic acid) that cause muscle ache. Because the blood supply helps eliminate these chemicals, use heat to help sore muscles after exercise.

Cold:
  • relieves pain by numbing the affected area.
  • reduces swelling and inflammation.
  • reduces bleeding.

Types of cold packs:

ice towel

  1. Dampen a towel with cold water.
  2. Fold it and place it in a plastic, sealable bag.
  3. Place the bag in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from freezer and place it on the affected area.

ice pack/cold compress

  1. Put ice in a plastic, sealable bag.
  2. Fill partially with water.
  3. Seal the bag, squeezing the air out of it.
  4. Wrap the bag in a damp towel and apply to the affected area.

When an injury or inflammation such as tendonitis or bursitis occurs, tissues are damaged. Cold application numbs the affected area, which can reduce pain and tenderness. Cold can also reduce swelling and inflammation.

Click here to view the
Online Resources of Orthopaedic Surgery


 Sources & References

OUR SERVICES

 Treatment at MUSC:
 »Family Medicine Center
 »Orthopaedics

 

RELATED INFORMATION

About This Site   |   Disclaimer   |  Privacy   |   Accessibility   |   Donations   |   Site Map
171 Ashley Avenue, Charleston, SC 29403 1.843.792.1414 | © 2014 Medical University of South Carolina

mobile web site iconrss feed iconText Messaging iconPodcast Library