Education is Treatment!
Questioning the Use of Ice Given Inflammation is a Perfectly Healthy Response , by: Dr. Barham Jam:
Questioning the Use of NSAIDs Given Inflammation is a Perfectly Healthy Response , by: Dr. Barham Jam:
Why Ice Doesn't Help an Injury and May Even Make It Worse, by Aaron Hutchins (McLean's 2014):
Is Ice All Wrong, by Jim Thornton (2017):
It's a heated debate!
At Physio Solutions, we do not promote the use of ice on any injury or post-operative condition. We are often challenged on this and decided to provide a page with the rationale.
What are the facts?
Let's start with an acute (or brand new injury):
Our first instinct is to apply ice. We do this because we have been taught that ice reduces inflammation and therefore speeds up healing. But wait a minute?....Our body uses inflammation to heal so why would we want to reduce it in the first place? So, if tissue is damaged and requires healing (like in a new injury or after a surgery), the last thing we want to do is reduce the blood flow to the site that needs it the most!
Imagine your injury is a traffic accident. Emergency workers need to get to the crash site and the highways are your blood vessels. Ice acts as a barricade where emergency workers cannot get in or even worse cannot get out even if they manage to squeeze by. Heat on the other hand keeps the traffic flowing so help gets to where it is needed and can also get out when the work is done.
Now let's talk about chronic pain (often referred to as chronic inflammation):
Ever wonder why anti-inflammatories don't always work? Chronic pain is not necessarily the result of chronic inflammation. It is much more complex than that. For more information on chronic pain, please check out our resources page. In any case, most sites of chronic pain are tight, protected, guarded, and not moving well. When we apply ice to these areas, we tend to clench up more. Heat on the other hand allows tissues to relax, blood vessels open up, tissues receive much needed oxygen, and for most people just feels better.
But please don't take our word for it! We did not invent this concept. See the resource articles. They were written to help change the culture around ice to help get people healing, moving, and recovering faster!