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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Heat and Cold

Thankfully, neither my family nor myself has experienced injuries that require hot and/or cold compresses.  However, recently I have developed back and leg pain and my daughter has a pinched nerve in her arm.  I couldn't remember when to use heat or cold, so I went looking for the information.  I hope none of you have to use this information but it is always helpful to have a reminder.

After an injury (sprain, strain, etc.,) cold packs should be applied. Cold helps constrict blood vessels, thereby reducing swelling associated with injury. Packs should be applied for 20 minutes at a time, about 4 times a day, making sure there is a cloth between the ice and skin to prevent frostbite. After 2 days, muscles now become stiff and achy, and application of heat helps dilate the blood vessels and increases blood flow, which helps to loosen stiff muscles.

Chronic pain, however, or pain not associated with an injury, usually responds better to heat. This would apply to issues such as arthritis or chronic back pain. It should be applied for about 20 minutes, 3 times a day.

Headaches are a little different. Headaches are often associated with dilated blood vessels in the brain, so we apply cool washcloths or cold packs to help constrict the blood vessels and reduce pain.

Wishing you all well today.

Meanwhile .... keep it simple and make it real.



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