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Heat or Ice?

Posted by Vicki on 11/27/2018

When to use heat or ice is often confusing. Just remember that any injury will initially cause bleeding into the tissues and cause increase in pain and swelling. That bleeding can be minor, with no visual notice of the bleeding, to a very severe bruise. How quickly you recover from the injury will depend on how much bleeding there is into the surrounding tissues. You should use cold for the first 72 hours after the injury to reduce the bleeding into the surrounding tissues. This will reduce the healing time as well. After the 72 hours, you can change over to heat. You may want to still keep the ice packs handy for anytime you over do it. The rule I use after 72 hours is, heat before you exercise or get active and use ice following the exercise.

     Here are few good recipes for making your own cold packs. Be sure to mark them as a non edible item in your freezer to avoid accidental ingestion:

  • A bag of frozen peas or carrots will work nicely and wrap around the affected joint.
  • A zip lock baggy filled with clear Karo Syrup will get very cold, but still keep it's ability to mold to the joint. Make sure to double bag it just in case of a leak.
  • 1/2 cup of rubbing alcohol to 1 1/2 cups of water in a zip lock baggy will stay slushy and be able to mold easily. Again, double bag it just in case.
  • A metal spatula kept in the freezer to quickly apply pressure to a deep bruise will quickly stop the bruise from getting to deep. It only needs to be applied for a minute or so with firm pressure.
  • A Hot pack can be made using a Ziploc brand bag I used is microwavable. If using a different brand, make sure it is microwavable. Fill the ziploc bag with the rice. You want the bag to be about half to three quarters full. Place the bag on a microwave safe plate and put in the microwave. Leave the bag open a bit to vent.  Heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Be careful when removing from microwave – it will be hot. Zip the bag up completely and place in a towel before putting it over the area.

Click the link to see a video on how to create your own hot/cold pack https://youtu.be/jv08Dblj1ZI

*Caution, you can get burned with heat or ice, so apply carefully!*