When treating muscle pain, should you opt for cold or hot therapy? This tends to confuse people who have had different results with different methods of pain relief. Some think it’s better to go for hot, while others think it’s better to go for cold.
For muscle pain caused by an injury, it’s best to choose both, with cold coming first followed by hot. For chronic muscle pain, heat is usually best.
Cryotherapy is a form of pain treatment that exposes irritated nerves to freezing temperatures for a few minutes. The cold reduce blood flow and deadens the nerves, resulting in decreased inflammation and consequently, pain. Cryotherapy can be localized or general, though it’s more often used to treat localized nerves. Generally it’s advisable to treat muscle injuries with ice intermittently for up to 48 hours after the injury.
Thermotherapy is a form of pain treatment that uses heat to alleviate pain. The heat dilates blood vessels, causing tight muscles to relax and removing waste buildup of lactic acid. It also increases the oxygen delivered to the targeted muscles, facilitating faster repair of damaged tissue.
Both cryotherapy and thermotherapy can be simulated with a cold and hot compress, respectively. This DIY approach works for mild pain. Your pain management professional may recommend using one or both of these therapies at home.
For serious and chronic pain, these therapies may only provide temporary or supplemental relief. At Pain Stop Clinics, we take a holistic approach to treating pain disorders. Your treatment plan will be tailored to your diagnosis and individual needs. Heat and cold treatments are one simple, proven method that can be used in conjunction with several healing modalities.