Date Published: Aug 23, 2023

Heat And Cold Therapy


Heat and cold therapy can be very simple solutions to pain problems, and they cost next to nothing.

Heat tends to work best for soothing stiff joints and tired or fatigued muscles. It is often very effective before exercise.  It increases blood circulation, which in turn delivers nutrients and healing factors to joints and muscles.

Cold is best for acute pain; it restricts blood vessels, slows circulation and reduces swelling. It also numbs nerve endings and dulls pain.  It is best to use cold therapy whenever your knee appears red or inflamed.

It is worth experimenting which one works best for your knee in various situations.  As a starting point, try heat for dull, throbbing longer-term pain, or for general stiffness as you might have in the morning. Try cold for event-related pain, such as a flare-up after exercise.

Heat treatment ideas:

Cold treatment ideas;

If your knee is red, swollen, or inflamed, then cooling it together with elevation and compression can be very effective.  There are specific machines and systems available designed to achieve “ICE” (ice, compression, elevation), however it can be more-simply achieved by using an ice pack or a pack of frozen vegetables with firm bandage and sitting with your knee elevated. All three components of ICE work to reduce inflammation.

Be Aware

Of course, be aware that both extreme cold and heat can burn your skin. Take care not to bring overly hot or cold surfaces directly in contact with your skin. This is particularly important if you are using moist or wet heat, as heat is transferred to your skin very quickly. Always use some kind of light insulating material such as a thin towel or pad between the heat / cold and your skin.

Don’t use heat if you have visible skin damage. The heat can open pores, wounds, increase the risk of infection, and increase skin-related pain.

Most authorities recommend using heat or ice twice a day, although using it more commonly (within reason) is unlikely to cause any ill-effects.

Mahima Kalra
Aug 23, 2023

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