When to use an ice pack or a heat pack?

Emanuele Mortarotti in
10 July 2020

Today on the Dispotech blog, we’ll be discussing cold packs and heat packs: when to use one or the other?

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Today on the Dispotech blog, we’ll be discussing cold packs and heat packs: when to use one or the other? In this article, inspired by a piece read on the thesoccerstore.co.uk website, we’ll try to understand when one or the other may be most useful for alleviating pain. Have a great read!


You still don’t understand when you should use a cold pack and when it’s better to rely on a heat pack? Don't worry, you're not the only one with this doubt! Below are some guidelines for understanding when to use one or the other safely.


Before we discuss this, however, an important distinction must be made, that is, between acute pain and chronic pain. Acute pain is what we feel immediately after an accident such as a collision, a fall, a sprain; this pain – which we feel immediately – usually is accompanied by swelling, redness, and inflammation.


Easily and treated quickly, acute pain goes away in a few days and is not a reason for particular concern. Chronic pain is different, however: it develops silently, the pain comes and goes and at first is underestimated by those who experience it. If not recognized and treated quickly enough, it can have long-term negative effects on one’s overall health.


On the basis of this introductory remark, what should we use to prevent and relieve these two types of pain?


An instant cold pack is indicated for acute pain: it reduces swelling and the feeling of pain, tightens blood vessels and immediately gives a feeling of relief. Ice therapy can be repeated several times a day for a maximum of 3 days; of course, breaks should be taken to give the skin time to recuperate its temperature between ice pack applications.


On the other hand, using a hot pack is more advisable for relieving chronic pain: muscle and joint pain tends to improve through the beneficial effect of heat which relaxes tense muscles. Our advice, then, is to hold a nice heat pack on the part of the body that hurts for no more than 15-20 minutes.

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