It’s time for another Austin Sports Medicine 101 class! Last blog we discussed the difference between acute and chronic injuries and how to treat them. We learned that while chronic injuries are best treated with heat, acute injuries should be tackled with cold. Today we’re learning how best to use cold therapy on those acute wounds.
- Cold therapy utilizes ice to reduce swelling and pain
- Ice causes blood vessels to narrow, which limits internal bleeding at the injury site
- To ice an injury, use an ice pack (or ice wrapped in a thin towel) and place it on the injured area for 10 minutes at a time.
- The best way to ice an injury is with an ice pack that is made to conform to the body part requiring cold therapy.
- A bag of frozen peas works well as an ice pack too!
- Before the second or third applications of ice therapy, allow skin temperature to return to normal.
- Ice therapy can be used several times a day for up to three days.
- Cold therapy can be used in treating some chronic pain in athletes. For example, a runner with chronic knee pain that increases after running can ice that area AFTER the run to reduce inflammation.