Oh it hurts?! Just put some ice on it! I am sure that's what many of you have been told for years. We have seen quite a few ankle injuries lately, and each patient that comes in asks, "should I heat or should I ice?" Unlike the video at the top from Rookie of the Year where he suggests using Hot Ice (not real), you have to usually pick between using ice or heat!

At some point many of you have probably heard or used the RICE method to treat an injury. The RICE method was developed by Dr. Dave Mirkin in 1978, and it stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. In the last 40 years there has been much research on the topic, and the recent research has even caused Dr. Mirkin to reverse his view on the topic 

“Ice has been a standard treatment for injuries and sore muscles because it helps to relieve pain caused by injured tissue. Coaches have used my “RICE” guideline for decades, but now it appears that both Ice and complete Rest may delay healing, instead of helping.In a recent study, athletes were told to exercise so intensely that they developed severe muscle damage that caused extensive muscle soreness. Although cooling delayed swelling, it did not hasten recovery from this muscle damage (The American Journal of Sports Medicine, June 2013). A summary of 22 scientific articles found almost no evidence that ice and compression hastened healing over the use of compression alone, although ice plus exercise may marginally help to heal ankle sprains (The American Journal of Sports Medicine, January, 2004;32(1):251-261).”

While ice can help with the pain and can help limit inflammation; ice does not help with healing. Your body relies on the inflammation to send the signal that healing needs to take place. If you ice too much you will limit the amount of healing cells that enter because you have decreased the blood flow to the area. The goal of using ice should be to control the swelling so that you are still able to move around. If the swelling gets to the point where the joint looks like a balloon, that's too much swelling. 

Heat is used to increase blood flow to the area which will bring an increase in healing cells. This response is what allows healing to take place in an injured area.

So now that I've given you this information about Ice and Heat, now what? Here are my recommendations on what to do if you get injured.

If the pain is severe or you lose consciousness you should have the injury assessed by a medical professional. If there is an open wound make sure it is cleaned and bandaged correctly. Now for the information you've been waiting for!

When to use ICE: 

- Use ice for an injury that just happened.

- Ice is used to control pain and keep the swelling under control.

- Use the ice for 10 minutes on, 20 minutes off, for up to 6 hours.

When to use HEAT:

- Use heat for any injury that didn't happen that day.

- Heat is used to improve blood flow and increase healing.

- Use heat for 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off, and repeat as needed.

Heat will speed up your healing, but it doesn't work on it's own to heal you. By being an active participant in your health (i.e. rehab, home exercise plan, lots of water)  you can speed up your healing and help prevent a similar injury from happening again. 

Each person is different and may not react the same to self treatment. If you have any injuries or pains that you have questions about please contact us! If we can't help you, we will get you to someone who can!

To check out more of Dr. Mirkin's articles click on this link: http://www.drmirkin.com/