Have you ever sprained your ankle and then seen it balloon up? That's due to the inflammation that follows injury.
Did you put heat on it? No...I hope!
Inflammation that follows injury is an important way for the body to heal, it helps to clear away damaged tissue and replenish the area with the nutrients and building blocks it needs to repair, which is good.
What's not good is that this can cause increased pain, restricted motion and can even get locked in an inflammatory cycle that doesn't go down like it should and causes prolonged pain. Chiropractic clinics see a lot of back pain like this.
Using ice packs or a pack of frozen peas (never eat them if they've been used for this) wrapped in a thin cloth or tea towel you can apply pressure over the injured area for around 20 minutes at a time, although quite a lot of physiological benefit is delivered within 8 minutes if memory serves... Severe pain and inflammation, such as with acute low back pain may benefit from regular applications of ice packs along side chiropractic treatment, this can be done as soon as the area has warmed back up to normal which takes around 1 hour. I've known patients to ice 10+ times a day and others are happy with 1-2 times. If you're sore after a treatment it's not a bad idea to ice 2 -3 times a day for the following 2 -3 days.
Have you ever got home from a long drive or a hard day at work and had stiff, tired muscles?
Did you put heat on it? Yes...good!
Heat stimulates blood flow which can help to replenish fatigued muscles with the nutrients they need as well as clearing away waste products like lactic acid or carbon dioxide. A warm wheat bag or hot water bottle with suitable covering can feel nice and relax you too.
Heat and ice can be used in combination for sub-acute or less severe pain, for example 10 minutes of heat brings in lots of nutrients that the body needs to heal. Follow this with 10 minutes of ice to help calm the area back down. The combination acts like a pump, good stuff is brought in and the bad stuff is pushed back out.
If you have any questions or aren't sure what to do, get in touch.
Duston Chiropractic Clinic
Nick has been treating patients for over 9 years. He currently works in clinics in Duston and Milton Keynes.