This is what comes out of many people’s mouth when they are asked to use ice packs to treat an injury:
“Why should I use ice packs? Heat feels so much better!”
A very simple explanation is that cold (or an ice pack) reduces inflammation, which is what you are trying to control and manage with an initial injury. Inflammation occurs with any injury or pain and that is natural, necessary and good, but when it spikes higher or doesn’t go down, that’s when pain continues. It’s best to use a re-usable and sturdy soft gel pack or clay pack. Able to contour to whichever part of the body you need it to, the treatment will be more effective. Make sure you never apply the pack directly to the skin surface and always have a thin layer of clothing, paper towel or some kind of barrier between you and the ice pack. A good guideline is 20 minutes at a time, no more than once an hour. This will vary depending upon your situation. If you have specific questions, ask a medical provider.
Sources of heat may feel good and heat increases blood circulation and relaxes muscles. However, it also increases some inflammation. So using heat on an initial injury is not recommended. It’s wise to wait 72 hours before trying to use heat.