Ice and Heat

Ice and Heat

Hey Guys! Dr. Byard here. I want to talk to you about icing and heating.

A lot of people have neck pain or back pain, they want to know, "what can I do about it?"  And the first thing I recommend is starting with an ice pack. So we take an ice pack, I want you to wrap it up in something so it's not directly on the skin, because we don't want you to get frostbite. It's gonna be there for 20 minutes, so take an ice pack put it directly on the neck, directly on the back or wherever the pain is and hold it there for 20 minutes. This is important because the body is really smart and after 20 minutes you're adapted to whatever therapy you're using, so it's important to give the body time to rest before we put more therapy on.

So the reason we start with ice first is because ice pushes inflammation out of the area and so if the area is inflamed the last thing we want to do is increase the inflammation. So if you put ice on first, it's going to push the inflammation out, it's gonna calm that area down and at the same time what happens is the ice will add sensation to the nerve which overwrites the pain pathway because pain and sensation use the same nerve bundles that come back up to your brain to tell you what's going on. So if we can override pain with sensation, cold in this case, it will deaden the amount of pain you're feeling. Now, how long that lasts varies from person to person and that's important information when you come in to let me know, how long did the ice help? Was it only while it was on or was it for hours? Okay, so after we try ice you can do ice for 20, rest for 20, and you can repeat that as many times as you want throughout the day.

After ice, you can also try heat. Heat has a different mode of action, so this is just a rice bag, we make them and sell them here or you can make one at home. Basically, it's rice in a bag you can throw in the microwave for one to three minutes depending on the power of your microwave. And the same concept applies, up to 20 minutes, don't let it burn your neck or your low back. 20 minutes at a time, same same reasons for why we use ice and you're gonna alternate 20 minutes of heat, 20 minutes of rest. What the heat does is it brings blood back to the area which really helps with healing processing. We typically, after an injury, ice for 72 hours and then after that you can start using heat, okay, because the inflammation is gone so we're gonna bring blood back to the area to help with the healing process. It's also going to override pain pathways and at the same time it's gonna loosen up the joint and warm up the muscles, similar to stretching before you workout.  It's gonna get the the joint and the muscles moving and so it's gonna really improve how much motion you have, so that's really important to get the joint moving.

The last thing I'll say is oftentimes one of these will help, sometimes both of them help. If both of them help, you can alternate 20 minutes of ice, 20 minutes of heat, and 20 minutes of rest and then you can repeat that because you're resting. Okay, so this is a really good first mode of action to try when something's hurting and then take notes on how long it helps and then when you come in, let me know, and then we can figure out where to go from there.

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