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Hot or Cold?

Outdoor activity is peaking as temperatures moderate, and football season is upon us. With this increase in activity comes an increase in related injuries. In most cases, these injuries produce soft tissue and joint pain that is easily treated with 2 “tried and true” modalities, cold and heat. How do you know when to use each? Just remember, acute is cold and chronic is heat. Let this be your guide in choosing a therapy.

Cold therapy should be used immediately following an acute injury and continued for about the first 48 hours following the injury. Application should be for 20 minute periods with alternating 10 minute periods of non-use. The cold source should not be applied directly to the skin. A fabric buffer should be used between the skin and the cold source. Cold therapy reduces inflammation and swelling by impeding circulation through vascular constriction.

Heat therapy should be used for chronic soft tissue and joint pain. The heat may be dry or wet, but wet heat achieves better tissue penetration. Application should be for 20 minute periods. The heat source should not be applied directly to the skin. A fabric buffer should be used between the skin and the heat source. Heat therapy reduces pain and promotes healing by increasing circulation through vascular dilation. Hot and cold products, like the ThermaPress Brand, function as both hot and cold therapy products. The pouch material provides the needed interface between the gel pack and the skin surface.

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