Advice by Proxim - Ralph Mokbel

Heat or Ice

You just sprained or strained a muscle. What should you do? You know that some people use heat or ice to decrease the pain but you don’t know which one, or how or when to use it?

ICE: When an injury occurs, swelling develops almost immediately and persists for about 48 hours. During this initial period, and as soon as possible, use ice to stop the swelling and to minimize the pain. Apply ice for 10-20 minutes every 2-3 hours while awake, being careful not to apply it directly on the skin (to avoid frostbite) and not to exceed recommended application time. Do not apply heat during this period. Because of its cooling effect, ice reduces blood supply to the area that is injured, limits swelling, and reduces pain. This limits tissue damage as well as the risk of bleeding.

Ordinary ice works very well, although there are synthetic substances available. Simply place a few whole or crushed ice cubes in a plastic bag and wrap it in a towel. Apply the ice to the injured area. If there is a lot of swelling, it may help to apply a pressure bandage as well and elevate the affected limb above the heart. It is important to mention that ice is not advisable for people with circulation problems or rheumatoid arthritis.

HEAT: The swelling usually stabilizes after about 2 days. The body then works to repair the damaged tissues and reduce the swelling. At this point, apply heat to the injured area, since heat activates blood flow, facilitates the healing process, and relieves pain. Apply heat for 15-30 minutes, 4 times a day. Use moist heat preferably, from a hot water bottle, for example. Protect the skin from burns by wrapping the hot water bottle with a towel. Finally, do not apply heat if the injury is infected or bleeding.

In conclusion, whenever you have any questions or hesitations regarding everyday health problems, it will be my pleasure to advise you personally...


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