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Using Cold and Heat Therapies

Table of Contents


Overview

Cold and heat therapies are treatments that use cold or heat to help with pain, soreness, muscle spasms, swelling, and inflammation. There are different ways you can do cold and heat therapies. For example, you might use an ice pack for cold therapy or an electric heating pad for heat therapy.

Most people like to use cold therapy for the first few days after a procedure or surgery. And they often use it right away after an injury, such as a sprain or strain. They also tend to use cold for swelling or inflammation. Some people prefer to use heat for muscle spasms.

Either cold or heat therapy may help with arthritis pain, cancer pain, low back pain, or soreness after exercise. Try both and see what works best for you. You might also try switching between cold and heat.

If you had a procedure or surgery, talk to your doctor about which therapy they recommend.

Be careful when using cold and heat therapies

Avoid using cold and heat therapies:

One way to safely use cold and heat therapies is to use them 10 to 20 minutes at a time, several times a day.

Cold therapies

Here are some types of cold therapy. If you use an ice towel, ice pack, or cold pack, put a thin cloth between the towel or pack and your skin.

Heat therapies

You can choose from several types of heat therapy.


Credits for Using Cold and Heat Therapies

Current as of: July 17, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff (https://www.healthwise.org/specialpages/legal/abouthw/en)
Clinical Review Board (https://www.healthwise.org/specialpages/legal/abouthw/en)
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.


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