What Should I Use Ice Packs For?
Ice treatment is most commonly used for acute soft tissue injuries. If you have had a recent injury (within the last 48 hours) where swelling is a problem, you should be using ice. Ice packs can help minimize swelling around the injury, reduce bleeding into the tissues, and reduce muscle spasm and pain. These effects all help to prevent the area from becoming stiff, by reducing excess tissue fluid that gathers as a result of injury and inflammation.
When ice packs are used after an injury, the brain becomes more aware of the sensation of the cold than the injury. This is called “the counter-irritant effect”. As the affected part gets colder, the sensitivity of pain nerve fibres is reduced, and pain impulses are transmitted more slowly.
Although the ice packs are easy to apply and very effective, it does carry a small risk. The skin temperature is lowered and so there is a risk of “burning” the skin. Always make sure you use an ice pack hot and cold to protect the skin and limits cross contamination that might otherwise result from sharing hot or cold packs between people.
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