Should you use ice or heat? If you find yourself asking this question, read on! As a general rule, ice is best for acute injuries, and heat is good for muscular tightness/pain. Ice will slow down the blood flow to an area and as a result, decrease swelling, while at the same time decreasing pain. Ice is good for acute injuries, migraine headaches, impact injuries, sprains and strains, and after performing activity that might exacerbate a chronic condition. Heat helps to bring blood flow to an area, and therefore if used on an acute injury, would cause an increase in swelling. This is why we would never recommend the use of heat on an acute injury. Use heat to loosen a tight or stiff, muscle or joint. It can also be used before an activity to loosen the desired area, priming it for movement. Be sure to put a thin layer of towel or pillow case between your skin and the ice or heat pack to prevent burns. Check the skin throughout the application about every 5 minutes during your 15-20 minutes application.
By Carol Cote, PT, CCTT, CODN, CMTPT
According to the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, November 24, Volume 44, Number 11:
“The results of this clinical trial suggest that 2 sessions of Trigger Point Dry Needling and Trigger Point Manual Therapy resulted in similar outcomes in terms of pain, disability, and cervical range of motion. Those in the Trigger Point Dry Needling Group experienced greater improvements in Pressure Point Threshold over the cervical spine. Future trials are needed to examine the effects of Trigger Point Dry Needling and Trigger Point Manual Therapy over long-term follow-up periods.”
To read more, click here (requires JOSPT membership).