In general, the application of ice slows down blood circulation in an area to reduce pain and swelling after an injury.
Cold therapy works through vasoconstriction, or a narrowing of the blood vessels. When this occurs, it flexes the muscles and reduces the inflammation that is causing the pain. Cold therapy is most commonly done through ice packs or short amounts of time in ice baths.
In general, heat relaxes muscles and joints.
Heat therapy is commonly used to reduce long-lasting or chronic pain. There are many forms of heat therapy, including commercial heat packs, heating pads, and moist or dry heat packs. Your chiropractor may use heat therapy in conjunction with other treatments, including cold, exercise, and massage therapy.
Heat therapy causes blood vessels in the treated areas to dilate or open wider. As a result, blood flow to the area is increased. Sore stiff muscles may relax and become more flexible. The increased blood flow may promote healing.
Chiropractors may alternate between heat and ice therapy to help patients treat back pain. Ice packs may be used to numb the back for a 10 to 15 minute period and then switched with a moist heating pad to restore blood flow to the area and promote faster healing.
To discover if this is an appropriate treatment for you, please contact us for a consultation!