To Ice or Not To Ice An Injury?

Ice is an extremely hot (or rather, cool) topic in sports medicine and acute injury rehab, and for good reason. The way we treat injuries is continually changing based on the most up to date research. Due to this, it’s no wonder there is confusion around whether ice is good, bad or indifferent for injuries.

 

When someone rolls their ankle, most of us instinctively grab an ice pack. When we see professional athletes get injured, they’re wrapped in ice before they’ve even made it off the field. Ice appears to be an ingrained part of the acute injury management process, but does this align with the latest research?

 

Ice treatment is most commonly used for acute injuries. If you have had a recent injury (within the last 48 hours) where swelling is a problem, you should be using ice. Ice packs can help minimize swelling around the injury, reduce bleeding into the tissues, and reduce muscle spasm and pain.

 

Ice packs are often used after injuries like ankle sprains have occurred. Applying an ice pack early and often for the first 48 hours will help minimize swelling, and decreasing swelling around an injury will help to control the pain. Ice treatments may also be used for chronic conditions, such as overuse injuries in athletes. In this case, ice the injured area after activity to help control inflammation. Never ice a chronic injury before activity.

 

You can make ice packs with ice cubes in a plastic bag or wet tea towel; a pack of frozen peas is also ideal and can go in and out of the freezer. Never place ice directly on an injury; keep the pack moving to avoid ice burns. Never treat with ice for more than 30 minutes, and remove the pack immediately if the injury appears bright pink or red.

 

Don’t use ice packs on the left shoulder if you have a heart condition, and don’t use ice packs around the front or side of the neck.

 

If you have questions regarding the proper treatment of an injury, call the physiotherapists or physical therapists at Harbourview Therapy today at 204.615.2888

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