Right after an injury, our first instinct is to touch or hold the area. After that, we start trying to figure out how to treat it. In the case of muscle or tissue injury, one of the most basic questions is whether to use ice or heat on the injured area.
This article (see link at the bottom of the quote) walks you through determining if the injury has inflammation (meaning heat cannot be used and ice would be the preferable treatment) or not. A quick quote from the article:
First determine whether your muscles have bruising or inflammation. If the muscle fibers are stretched too far, then your body responds in positive manner when the blood flow is increased.
If the inflammation is severe, it makes blood to become congested and restricts the oxygenated blood from reaching the muscles.
You must know whether it is to use ice or heat. Ice can be used more frequently than heat because of the risks associated with heat. Heat causes pain or burning if used incorrectly.
Don’t dare to keep ice or heat directly on your skin. Always use a protective barrier.
She discusses the benefits of ice therapy and heat therapy in the article as well.
To be safe, stick with ice for any initial trauma until you know whether or not there is any inflammation. Check out her full article if you’ve got an injury and want to know if ice or heat would be a better course of treatment. As always, check with your doctor or physician when you’ve injured yourself and need professional advice or consultation.