Heat it or Ice It?

Often people can get confused on when it is appropriate to use heat vs ice. Here is a quick rule of thumb to follow:
 
Ice
1. after an acute injury during the inflammatory phase (usually day 1 to 7)
2. the first 2-3 weeks after orthopedic surgery
3. for mild to moderate swelling
4. for soreness/achiness
5. for pain
6. following workout/exercise program
Heat
1. when inflammatory phase is over (when swelling has subsided)
2. for tightness or stiffness
3. for pain (provided there is no swelling)
4. before beginning stretching/workout program
5. avoid heat to an affected area for > 10-15 minutes (heat dilates blood vessels and prolonged heat can promote swelling and lead to soreness/stiffness)
 
Lindsay Duryea, DPT
Atlantic Physical Therapy
Ocean Pines, MD