Hot or Cold Packs? Which is better?
First of all, if you are thinking about using dry heat – just put it out of your mind FOREVER! Dry heat increases inflammation, and will practically assure that you will buying me dinner for weeks to come. Either moist heat, or moist cold is fine, for about 15 minutes. More is NOT better!. Both heat and cold work in a similar manner. Heat causes vasodilation, which increases blood flow at the surface. This is your body’s attempt to get some (heat) energy “for free.” It may cause further swelling as a downside. Cold, in contrast, causes vasoconstriction. This is your body’s attempt to AVOID losing (heat) energy and waste that breakfast to heat up a silly cold pack. After 15 minutes of either, when the pack is removed, blood will flow back whence it came, flushing and cleaning the affected area, If only one or the other is used, the body part should be allowed to return to close to normal temperature before repeating. If both are used – usually the best choice of all – alternating 15 minutes of each can be done without waiting between the two. This literally forces blood back and forth – flushing, feeding and cleaning the area with a little force. The reason that more than 15 minutes of either is not good, is that blood will pool – either near the surface in the case of heat, or deep, in the case of cold, effectively leaving the tissues in “dirty bath water” or, dirty diapers. VERY IRRITATING! Once the blood is “used up” – nutritional elements absorbed and waste products dumped, its time for a flush! Bottom line: cold (moist) is never wrong, heat (dry) is always wrong. Alternating moist heat and cold is the best. End up on the one you like the most. Ideal time for either is 15 minutes.