By advantagech31005430, Nov 3 2016 04:23PM
People are often confused which to use and when. It all depends on timing. Ice is used to reduce "acute" inflmmation. Acute inflammation is considered the first 72 hours after an injury. If you fall, "throw your back out" etc, use ice. Heat is tricky during this time because it feels good on your muscles, but it dilates blood vessels and can lead to more swelling/inflammation, so refrain from using it until after 72 hours. Note: This includes hot showers, take them a little bit cooler than you normally would. Heat should be used after the first 72 hours, once the inflammation has subsided. The heat, again will dilate blood vessels, but since active inflammation is no longer a concern, we want blood flow to increase to the damaged area to promote healing.
Also, be aware that if during or after the first 72 hours, you reinjure or cause irritation to the injury site, start the 72 hour clock over at zero, and wait to apply heat.
Heat is usually the preferred of the two for chronic issues such as osteoarthritis or degenerative disc and joint disease.