Should I use a hot or cold compress?

Hot and Cold Compress

Do you know which one to use?



Quite often my clients ask me if they should use a hot or cold compress on their specific injury. Allow me to explain the difference between the two.

Hot Compress:

Also known as heat therapy. Use a hot compress or heat pack to relief chronic pain to an injury without swelling or inflammation.

Types of  chronic pain and injuries: tendinitis, tennis elbow, arthritis, and shin splints.

Neck and shoulders sore after a long day? Use a hot compress. This will increase blood flow to the area, which increases the elasticity of the muscles and connective tissue surrounding the joints.

Do not apply a hot compress for more than 15-20 minutes at a time. Moist heat penetrates more effectively than dry heat. Use a protective towel between the compress and the skin to assure not to burn.

Cold Compress:

Also known as cold therapy. Use a cold compress or ice pack to reduce the swelling of an acute injury (within the last 48 hours). The use of ice constricts the blood vessels and decreases firing of the nerve endings which makes you feel numb, thus reducing the pain.

Types of acute injuries: fractures, sprains, strains, torn ACL, shoulder dislocation, abrasions and cuts.

Apply ice, which is wrapped in a thin towel for comfort to the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Allow the skin temperature to return to normal before icing a second or third time. You can ice an acute injury several times a day for up to three days.

When an injury is sustained, the best option is to consult with a qualified medical professional, such as your primary physician or a licensed physical therapist, to assure the treatment of choice is the safest, most optimal choice to reduce your symptoms.

Massage therapy is a great way to assist in the healing process of back and neck pain. You may also request for ice or heat to be incorporated in your next therapeutic massage.

For Ice:

We recommend the Mueller Ice Pack (Affiliate Link).  This ice pack is awesome. To add ice, unscrew the plastic top and add ice cubes and a little water. The Mueller Ice Pack is great for icing the neck and shoulders. The best thing about it is that it stays dry and doesn’t sweat.

Schedule yours today with IMR. 702-482-8585


Massage Las Vegas