Ice Versus Heat – Which Should You Use? |

Ice Versus Heat – Which Should You Use?

Heat and ice are both very useful tools in rehabilitation and decreasing of a patient’s symptoms. There has always been confusion though in regards to which to use in which situation.

Here are some tips for choosing whether to use ice or heat next time:


Ice is better in the case of an injury. It is very useful for dulling the consequences of inflammation including redness, pain, local heat, and swelling. It is also more useful after a recent injury such as a pulled muscle or dislocation.

Ice may be used directly after exercise, at the gym or in physical therapy. Sprains, inflammation, or acute pain after exercise can benefit from an icing session.


Heat is better for chronic pain. It is useful for decreasing pain from muscular spasms or lumbar or cervical pain. Muscle soreness, joint stiffness, or recurring injuries can benefit from a heat session.


Overall differences between these two types of healing are that ice helps sharp pain and inflammation while heat helps to soothe stiffness or to relax muscles. Individuals should typically use ice after exercise, but use heat before exercise. Regardless of the type of temperature though, only use either for about twenty minute intervals. Excess use of ice or heat may irritate the skin or even produce tissue damage.


If you have further questions about whether to use ice or heat, please contact Balance Chicago at (773) 525-5200 for clarification.

Interested in reading more? Check out: Ice vs. Heat


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