Hot vs Cold Therapy For Pain Relief

pain relief therapy cooling cryotherapy
Cold and heat therapy are both considered very effective and affordable home remedies for a range of conditions like joint pain, muscle pain, pulled muscles, and a myriad of different kinds of injuries. But is there a superior one out of the two? Is cold therapy better used in some circumstances than its alternative?

In this article, we will talk about cold and heat therapy, their application, and a short comparison to understand which therapeutic option is better.

Unpacking what ‘cold’ and ‘heat’ therapy mean

Tapping the affected area with a cold object to treat body joint pain or swelling is called cold therapy. Cold therapy, also referred to as cryotherapy can be taken by using ice packs, icy water, or cold cloth. According to Cochrane Library, cold therapy works by reducing the blood flow in the applied area, decreasing pain, inflammation, and swelling. It works to numb hurt or sore tissues and also tapers off the signals of pain or hurt being relayed to the brain. Reducing the blood flow in the impacted area slows down nerve activity which helps in reducing pain sensitivity, eventually resulting in pain relief! There are many ways in which cold therapy can be applied to an area of injury, such as an ice pack, a cold compress using a towel or cloth, immersing your body in cold water, or, the most convenient, a cold-therapy-infused pain spray! You can also try cold therapy using our Mighty Mint Pain Relief Spray and our Mess Less Pain Relief Roll On.

Tapping the area with a hot object to treat body joint & muscle pain or swelling is referred to as heat therapy. Heat therapy can be applied using heat pads, hot water bottles, warm cloths, or tepid baths. According to the National Library of Medicine, this therapy can help recover damaged cells, enhance muscle relaxation, and relieve pain to make you feel better. How does this work? Well, the key lies in increasing the temperature at the impacted zone and enhancing blood flow and circulation to the area. This increased temperature in the affected then helps relieve pain and make muscles flexible. There are two common types of heat therapy — dry and moist. In dry heat therapy, heating pads and taking steam are the most common, whereas hot baths, steamed towels, and moist heat packs are commonly used for moist heat therapy.

Which one is better?

So, which therapy is better, more superior than the other? Like most things in health and wellness, there is no straight answer to this question. Which therapy suits you better could vary from person to person and injury to injury, even depending on your other medical conditions, preferences, and more.

When to use cold therapy

Cold therapy is generally considered to be suitable as pain relief for most problems, especially ones that cause swelling. It is best to apply the cold therapy right after the injury, and it should be used for a maximum of 20 minutes. Cold therapy is touted to be a brilliant way to ease the pain for those with osteoarthritis, gout, strains, tendinitis, or a recent injury. Interestingly, it is also supposed to be a great migraine cure! People with diabetes and sensory issues that make it hard to feel things should avoid cold therapy because it can damage the nerve cells and eliminate their sensitivity.

When to use heat therapy

Heat therapy can help reduce back or neck pain and work magically on pulled muscles. Applying it to the affected area will open the blood vessels, increase the blood flow, relax your muscles, and reduce the pain. When applying heat therapy, it is important to always stay mindful of the temperature, which should never be hot enough to burn you! However, there are some conditions when using heat therapy is not a good option. If you have cuts, bruises, swelling, or an infected sore, cold therapy might be a better option. Also, people with high blood pressure problems, a history of heart disease, or chronic medical conditions should get a doctor’s opinion before applying heat therapy.

Cold and heat therapies are efficient and affordable treatments for conditions like joint and muscle pain, pulled muscles, and injuries. The applications of both treatments differ depending on the various medical conditions and the nature of the injury. Interestingly, some experts even recommend alternating between cold and hot therapies for quick pain relief, especially for those with osteoarthritis or exercise and sports-related injuries.

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