Hot & Cold Compresses are a convenient tool for treating both acute and chronic injuries.
Sprains, strains, contusions and other injuries experienced at home or on the playing field can be effectively treated by cold packs activated in just a few minutes. They are simple to use and you can employ them just as effectively at home as can your therapist at the clinic or on the court. You can also easily treat chronic injuries at home using a hot pack that you have left in the microwave for a minute or two.
You can take Hot & Cold Compresses along with you on business or vacation trips to help manage ongoing injuries. It’s also useful to keep a few of them at home to deal with insect stings or bites, falls or the other accidents that will inevitably take place. Compresses that can serve a dual purpose (functioning as both hot and cold treatments) offer additional versatility in managing various types of conditions.
When Are Hot Compresses Best Used?
Hot Compresses will improve your blood circulation to a specific area. They do this by opening up your blood vessels to allow a faster rate of flow.
Another benefit of using a hot compress is a reduction in muscle or joint stiffness.
In general, hot therapy is best applied for longer periods than cold therapy. This is particularly true when you are using a hot compress for pain relief. In those circumstances, a hot compress can provide benefits when used for periods of two hours or even more.
When used to treat muscle stiffness, you can benefit from applying a hot compress for as little as 20-30 minutes.
When Should Hot Compresses Never Be Used?
Avoid using hot compresses on areas where you have contusions or swelling. It will only make these problems worse.
Also avoid using heat therapy of any kind if you have an open wound. The increased blood flow may increase bleeding from the wound.
You should also avoid using hot compresses if you have diabetes, deep vein thrombosis or multiple sclerosis. As with cold therapy, you should avoid the use of a hot compress if you have limited feeling due to nerve damage.
Precautions To Observe When Using A Hot Compress
In addition to the above, if you have high blood pressure, you should check with your doctor before using a hot compress.
On Which Occasions Should Cold Compresses Be Used?
Cold compresses (or ice packs as they are sometimes called) are best used on acute injuries and in the first few days after these injuries have occurred. They will reduce inflammation and will also relieve pain and swelling, which will be the key problems to overcome during the first few days of such an injury.
If you have an open wound, the cold compress will also help by reducing the rate of blood flow. It does this by constricting the blood vessels in the area of the injury. This will then help to stem any bleeding that you may be suffering.
As a suggestion, we would recommend applying a cold compress to the affected area at intervals of around 2-3 hours. Each application should last for around 20 minutes.
When Should Cold Compresses Never Be Used?
If you have a disorder that prevents you from feeling a normal range of sensations, you should avoid cold therapy. An example of such a condition might be diabetic neuropathy in which a diabetes condition causes nerve damage. If you have such a condition, you may not be able to detect when the old compress is actually damaging your skin. The risks of cold therapy then outweigh its benefits.
You should also avoid using cold compresses on stiff muscles or joints. They will only make those problems worse.
If you suffer from poor circulation, you should also avoid using cold compresses for the same reason.
Precautions To Observe When Using A Cold Compress
Avoid applying the compress directly to your naked skin as this may result in a skin injury. Instead, first wrap the compress in a damp towel or other similar insulating material.
If you have heart disease, you should check with your doctor before using cold compresses.
DISCLAIMER: * Please note that, although Dunbar Medical distributes many premier brands in Sports Medicine and Home Health Care, we do not provide medical advice. As a result, we caution all users of this site not to regard its contents as medical, legal or other professional advice. Please do not attempt to use the information on this site to understand or treat any health or fitness problem or disease you may be experiencing. Instead, please seek the advice and assistance of a healthcare professional in order to understand the treatments or therapies that are appropriate for your particular condition.