Cold therapy is quite effective in the case of many injuries like a hamstring tear or a sprained ankle. It helps in reducing pain and inflammation.
Each injury is different and can be treated in different ways. Here are a few tips which are very helpful when you are icing any kind of injury.
1) Take Care of Your Skin
In pain, we are quite tempted to try cold therapy and that too directly to the skin. We feel it will give us instant relief. However, this isn’t a good way to treat your skin.
When you are apply cold directly or using a cold therapy directly for a long time, you might develop skin sensitivity or allergy. This may not be good for your skin. You need to keep your skin protected. Here are a few precautions to be considered.
- Do not apply the cold therapy for than 15 minutes at a time. You can take a break for an hour or two and then apply again.
- You can also place a cloth or a towel and use it as a protective barrier. You can use the barrier between yourself and the cold source. This shall help in preventing a direct contact with your skin.
- If you notice that your skin is getting red or blotchy, you need to stop applying immediately.
2) Apply Ice Soon
It is said that cold therapy is most effective when it is used in the first 24 hours and within 72 hours of the injury. Thus, it is always recommended to start the cold therapy treatment as soon as you can. In case the nature of the injury is such that it needs immediate care of a medical professional, you need to definitely prioritise medical care.
You can then use heat therapy after 48-72 hours. This will help in stimulating the blood flow to the injury site. This will help in moving the different nutrients which can help in the healing process. However, you need to remember that heat therapy can also aggravate the conditions of acute injury. Thus, be careful and slowly go through the transition. You need to be quite attentive and keep checking how the body keeps responding to the change and therapy.
3) Try the rest of the R.I.C.E protocol principles
You can combine ice treatment with the following treatments, during the first 24 hours of the injury. This shall help in speedy recovery.
- Rest – you need to avoid all activities which shall cause stress on the injured
- Ice – As mentioned above
- Compression – Try a compression wrap to get relief. This can be in the form of elastic bandage. This will help in reducing the swelling and will also offer good support.
- Elevation – When you raise your injured leg above the level of your heart, it will help in reducing or preventing the fluid pool.
Lastly, you need to remember that cold therapy is actually not a cure. If the symptoms do not improve, you need to make an appointment with your Doctor. A proper diagnosis should be done and then treatment course analysed.