As you probably know, icing an injured area will decrease swelling and allow you to recover from an injury much faster. There are several rules to using ice effectively to make sure you get the most of your time spent icing. The current rule of icing vs. heat is ‘use ice until it no longer helps.’
Here is how you properly ice an injury:
- Use ice cubes or cold packs. In a pinch, you may use frozen vegetables (leave them inside the bag)
- Place the ice over the painful area either directly on the skin or with one layer between the skin and ice
- The feelings you will experience while icing will vary from cold to “burning”, to aching, to numbness. Everyone experiences something a little different, but icing does not carry a general reputation as a “comfortable thing to do.” You will find that after 2-3 treatments, your tolerance for the discomfort will be much better
- Leave the ice bag over the area for 10-20 minutes, or until the area becomes numb (as tested by a fingernail scratch, for instance), whichever comes first. Never under any circumstances, leave the ice on for longer than 20 minutes. Twenty minutes is good but forty minutes is not twice as good. Leaving the ice on for longer periods puts you at risk for frostbite and other forms of tissue damage, and at the very least, will cause more pain to the area than you began with.
- After your treatment, remove the ice bag. The area may feel strange at first but once the skin and underlying tissue warm back up, normal feeling will return. You may re-apply ice after 20 minutes between treatments. This time will allow the body to regain normal temperature, so it will be safe to once again cool it down Keeping the timing of 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off can be done for 1.5 – 2 hours.
If you have any questions or concerns while using ice at home, please contact us!