Ice or Heat?

It’s Saturday afternoon and after working in the yard your lower back is sore and tight, what do you do? Do you lie on a heating pad or do you brave the cold and lie on an ice pack? We get asked on a daily basis, “Which is better? Ice or heat?” That is a loaded question. In my opinion, you can never go wrong with ice. Applying ice to the affected tissue will vasoconstrict the blood vessels which will decrease inflammation, numb sore tissues, acting as a local anesthetic, and slows down the pain messages being transmitted to the brain. Ice is also best utilized during the acute phase (0-48 hours after injury) while heat may be best used for chronic pain.

A good rule of thumb to go by is that you can never go wrong with ice. So after any physical activity, applying an ice pack to the affected area will be your best bet for avoiding increasing pain. If your pain persists or even gets worse, then you may want to come see us and let one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy perform an extensive examination of the injury.

Brannon Chester, DPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy