Heat or Cold Therapy?

Heat therapy is to increase blood flow by dilating, or opening up, blood vessels. Heat therapy is best for chronic issues or stiffness. You also can use heat therapy when you are exiting the acute phase of injury (typically post-72 hours) and entering the subacute phase.

  • Chronic Stiffness
  • Tension Headache
  • Chronic Sprains & Tendinitis
  • Menstrual Cramps

Cold therapy is used to reduce blood flow by constricting, or closing, blood vessels. Cold therapy can ease pain caused within the first 72 hours of any acute injury, such as an ankle sprain or muscle strain.

  • Acute sprains and strains
  • Flaring joints
  • Gout flare-ups
  • Vascular headaches


For Heat Therapy:

  • Should be used for approximately 30 minutes.
  • Use enough insulation. Make sure that the heat source doesn’t overheat or burn the skin.
  • For any acute injuries such as muscle sprains, strains, knee injuries, fractures or dislocations, heat therapy is not advised
  • Should also never be applied to open wounds and patients with circulatory problems should avoid

For Cold Therapy:

  • Never apply the ice directly onto the skin
  • Ice should never be applied for more than 20 minutes, wait 40 minutes to 1 hour before reapplying
  • Should refrain from using cold therapy for attempting to treat any chronic type of injury
  • Should never apply cold therapy to open wounds , patients with circulatory problems or neuropathic problems should avoid

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