Ankle sprains are a common injury that can disrupt our daily routine. The discomfort and loss of mobility can significantly affect our quality of life and make us feel sluggish if left untreated. However, there are two easy and effective treatments that can help alleviate the symptoms - ice and heat.
Applying ice can help reduce inflammation and pain, while heat can promote blood flow and accelerate the healing process. It's important to note that the timing and duration of these treatments may vary depending on the severity of the injury, so it's always best to consult with a medical professional for proper guidance.
But here's the question, which should you choose? Ice or heat? To start with, keep reading because we want to let everyone know how to use either ice or heat to help their sprain recover faster, so they can regain their quality of life sooner than expected.
When and How to Use Cold Therapy
Cold is a quick and easy way to manage pain and swelling. If you need clarification on the severity of your injury, it's always best to see a doctor first! Otherwise, ice can immediately prevent unnecessary swelling and promote faster healing in the long run. It's also great for quickly relieving pain if one chooses to exercise.
SACKSY THYME Cold Therapy Pack for Injured Ankle:
The SACKSY THYME Cold Therapy Pack is an excellent product for those who have injured their ankle. The pack is designed to alleviate pain and reduce swelling, which are common symptoms of ankle injuries. The cold therapy pack is made from high-quality materials to ensure maximum effectiveness and comfort.
How to Properly Apply Cold
Cold is being used as a treatment for injuries and inflammation that can be caused by playing sports, falling down, bumping your shin into something, or any other physical trauma one could experience. Ice helps treat swelling and pain. It's effective in numbing the area around an injury. Here are some general rules for ice application:
- Only use a thin layer between your skin and the ice to achieve therapeutic numbness. A T-shirt or pillowcase works well, but NOT a towel.
- Up to 20 minutes of icing is best for boosting the healing process of damaged tissue, but too much can make it more difficult for your body to repair itself!
- It usually takes about 10-15 minutes to achieve “numb” status (less with ice massage).
- Once the area is numb, you can stop icing.
Benefits of Cold Therapy
Applying Cold therapy pack to the affected area is a good idea. The cold constricts your blood vessels and pushes fluid out of the area so new fluid cannot return. Ice also numbs the feeling. When you have ankle injuries, it is good to keep them from being inflamed again!
Since each person has different issues, how much time should you spend on this treatment? Applying cold for 10 to 15 minutes is sufficient for most people after an injury occurs.
However, icing longer or between injuries helps improve protection against inflammation. If you don't have any injury but still want to do it for prevention, use ice for about 20 minutes every day until the pain disappears.
Best Ways to Apply Cold Therapy
Cold Pack or Ankle Ice Wrap
Remove the wrap from the freezer and place it where you need it. Compression is a great way to help manage additional pain and swelling when administering a wrap for treatment.
It provides a soothing and cooling sensation on the skin, specifically for temporary pain management.
Ice is applied directly to the injured area for 5-10 minutes or until moderate pain or discomfort arises.
Ice Therapy Machine
This machine compresses cool water through a specially designed hose for ankle joints. This is done by compression to relieve swelling from the injury further.
Placing the foot and ankle in a bucket or tub of cold water can address large areas simultaneously.
When and How to Use Heat Therapy
Heat is a more agreeable treatment option for any injury when possible. It can be used throughout the recovery process. Still, the only time it is not recommended would be when excessive swelling is present or within the first few hours to days of an injury (depending on severity). It can be used before and after exercise and treatment to help with pain, stiffness, and stress management.
SACKSY THYME Microwavable Heating Pad For Injured Ankle:
Benefits of Heat Therapy
Many people like the heat. It helps warm and relax their muscles, saving them a step when it comes time to sink back into bed after a long day's work or play. Additionally, warmth can quicken your healing process by increasing blood flow throughout your body.
It also allows you to get more done in less time since rigidity is diminished, which will cause you to feel less stiff and more relaxed the following day. Be sure not to warm yourself over; otherwise, you might fall asleep too early for your ankles to enjoy being massaged or put through range-of-motion exercises.
Dry vs. Moist Heat
Suppose you have lived or traveled in places with high humidity or even stayed indoors for extended periods during the summer, for example. In that case, you're probably familiar with how this can give off a strong feeling of being hot in certain areas.
Studies show that heated water vapors penetrate our skin more deeply than dry heat, which can be noted particularly at certain points on the body throughout the day.
In the case of getting therapy from a professional, like a physical therapist or chiropractor, for example, it's a good idea to see if they have something called moist heat and ask about using it to see how effective it is at maximizing your benefits.
Best Ways to Apply Heat Therapy
Depending on your circumstances, this can be achieved with hot water or a microwave.
Herbal Heating Pads
Apply a herbal heating pad and set it at the desired level of warmth. Be sure to remove it when you are done.
Hot Water Bottle
Fill the bottle with water at the desired temperature, and enjoy.
Draw yourself an Epsom salt bath and relax your entire body. Or fill a bucket with warm water for specifically soaking your foot in!
Why Swelling Happens
Swelling is often demonized in association with a new injury, as it has become so closely associated with severe pain. However, swelling is a normal, even necessary, part of the healing process. It allows more beneficial cells to get into the injured area and repair cells damaged by the incident.
However, anyone who has ever suffered from swelling knows it can be uncomfortable. Ice should always be used during this time to alleviate discomfort.
Alternating Cold and Hot Therapy
Alternating between heat and cold therapy pack on an injury is one of the best things to do for yourself to optimize the healing process. This is because it increases the frequency of blood circulation in the tissue around the injured area, speeding up recovery time.
To be properly effective, it's generally recommended that you alternate your treatment options regarding ice, followed by heat or vice versa. If you have a newer injury or want to eliminate all the swelling, applying cold is one great way to go!
Otherwise, if you find relief in warmth at the end of a long day, use this method - make sure that's what works best for you, and remember to always listen to your body!
Here are some additional tips for applying heat or cold to an injured ankle:
- If you use an ice pack, ensure it is not too cold. Ice that is too cold can damage your skin.
- If you use a heating pad, ensure it is not too hot. Heat that is too hot can also damage your skin.
- If you use a hot water bottle, ensure the water is not too hot. Hot water that is too hot can also damage your skin.
- Keep the ice pack or heating pad in place for 20 minutes.
- If you are using a hot water bottle, make sure to keep it upright so that the water does not leak out.
- Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about using heat or cold therapy.
Safe Application of Cold and Hot Therapy
Cold and heat therapy treatments require close attention to skin health throughout their treatment time, as there is a risk of frostbite or burns if sensation is compromised.
Cold therapy, for example, should not be induced for longer than 30 minutes without being followed by a period of warming up, which can last approximately 15 minutes. This helps ensure that reactions caused by blood-flow restriction (which may cause frostbite) do not get an opportunity to develop fully.
- After either treatment option, don’t force any movements or exercise due to altered sensation.
- Avoid using heat if you have MS to prevent relapses.
- Avoid ice or heat if you have diabetes, vascular disease, or decreased feeling in the ankle.