Heat or ice for my accident injuries
One of the most common questions I get when evaluating my patient’s is whether they should use heat or ice for their accident injuries. There are many forms of treatments for strains or sprains in the body after an accident. A common form of treatment is using ice packs or a heating pads on the injured areas. First I would like to discuss the benefits of them both as well as which to use after an injury.
Icing instructions and purpose
The first general rule is to ice an acute or subacute injury. Swelling and inflammation is the body’s natural first response to an injury. The blood vessels expand in order to bring more blood flow to the area to start the healing process. Immediately after an accident the best thing to do is to apply ice to the injury. This will allow the blood vessels to constrict, reducing inflammation and bringing down the swelling. Icing the injured areas also creates a numbing affect which may also aid in pain relief.
You can make ice packs with ice cubes in a plastic bag or small wet hand towel. A bag of frozen peas also is an inexpensive yet affective form of an ice pack which may go in and out of the freezer. The use of a pillow case or several layers of paper towel should always be placed between the skin and ice pack to avoid ice burns and blisters. The application of an ice pack to the affected area should be for no more than 15-20 minutes. If the injury involves your hands or feet, these can be submerged in ice water for 10 minutes every 2 hours for the same effect. If the injury appears bright pink or red remove the ice pack immediately.
Tips for using heat on an injury
A hot pack or heating pad is best when used for subacute and chronic injuries. The soothing effect occurs since heat stimulates circulation and increases tissue elasticity which then provides pain relief. Heat therapy is generally not to be used after activity. Heat may be applied with a hot wet towel or heating pad/pack. Moist heat also provides good results to sore and achey muscles, such as a hot bath to relieve pain.
Similar to cold therapy, it is important to take certain precautions. Avoid using heat therapy for long periods of time to the injured areas. These common mistakes may lead to irrigation, blisters, and sometimes even burns. Using 15-20 minute increments is typically most effective. After the removal of heat therapy it is best to allow the tissues to return to there normal temperatures before reapplying to the same area.
Heat treatment is most useful for chronic injury since it increases blood flow. This increase in blood flow allows for additional oxygen and nutrients to flow within the muscle. This tends to speed healing and helps to relax tight and injured muscles. Heat should not be used immediately after an injury, as it may ultimately increase swelling and causing more pain. Hot baths should also be avoid within the first weeks to two weeks after an accident injury.
Heat or ice for disc injuries
Disc injuries in the spine when first injured often swell which then places pressure onto the spinal nerves or spinal cord. Discs which are injured from acute trauma should always be treated initially using cryotherapy or ice therapy. This will aid in reducing the swelling and helping to remove any nerve impingement to the nerves or spinal cord. The length of time would also be 15-20 minutes to the affected area. For chronic disc injuries the recommendation would be to use a hot pack or heating pad which will help promote the healing process. For chronic disc injuries it is common to have flare ups which are usually caused from improper lifting, excessive bending, or even sleeping in bad positions. In cases when the disc becomes flared up it’s best to return to icing to help reduce the swelling.
Whatever the cause, disc injuries also respond very well to chiropractic care. We offer a wide range of therapeutic services including physical therapy, physiotherapy, chiropractic, and massage therapy at our clinics. It is recommended to have any auto accident injuries evaluated by a medical professional for a complete diagnosis. For those injured in an auto accident all insured drivers have medical PIP (personal injury protection) coverage as part of their policy covering the diagnosis and treatment of injuries that occurred from your accident. This coverage pays for the services (chiropractor, physical therapy, manual therapy, physiotherapy) of necessary medical treatment up to your policy limit, regardless of who is at fault.
Car accident injury treatment in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties:
Our goal at Chiropractic and Rehabilitation of South Florida is to provide our patients with an exceptional experience when they walk through our doors. Quality services are the least we can provide to help patients through the stressful times after a car accident. We also provide transportation to each of our offices for any auto accident complications. Call for a chiropractic evaluation today at 855-954-2273.