Ice and heat are often used in the treatment of injuries, but they serve different purposes and are suitable for different types of injuries. Acute sprains and strains or acute mechanical injuries that are require chiropractic care, usually benefit from icing.

Here’s a general guideline:

Ice (Cold Therapy):

When to Use: Ice is typically used for acute injuries or during the initial stages of an injury when there is swelling, inflammation, or pain.
How it Works: Ice helps reduce swelling by constricting blood vessels and numbing the area, which can alleviate pain.

Examples of When to Use Ice:
Immediately after a sprain or strain.
For swelling and inflammation due to overuse or acute injury.

Using ice for acute sprains and strains is a common and effective approach. Here’s how you can apply ice for these types of injuries:

Timing: Apply ice as soon as possible after the injury occurs, preferably within the first 48 hours. This early application helps reduce swelling and inflammation.

Duration: Apply ice for about 15-20 minutes at a time. You can repeat this every 2-3 hours during the first 48 hours after the injury.


Wrap the ice pack or cold pack in a thin cloth or towel to prevent direct contact with the skin, which can cause ice burns.
Place the ice pack on the injured area, such as the sprained or strained joint or muscle.
Avoid applying ice directly to bare skin.

Elevation: If possible, elevate the injured area while applying ice. This can further help reduce swelling.

Rest: While using ice, it’s crucial to rest the injured area and avoid putting weight or strain on it to allow for proper healing.

Remember, ice is most effective during the initial stages of an acute injury when there is swelling and inflammation. If the pain or swelling persists or worsens, or if you have concerns about the injury, consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation and treatment.

Heat (Warm Therapy):

When to Use: Heat is more suitable for chronic injuries or during the later stages of healing when there is no longer significant swelling or inflammation.
How it Works: Heat promotes blood flow, relaxes muscles, and can help alleviate stiffness and promote healing.

Examples of When to Use Heat:
For muscle stiffness or tension.
Chronic injuries such as ongoing back pain or arthritis.
However, it’s essential to note that these are general guidelines, and individual circumstances may vary. Always consult with a healthcare professional or your Chiropractor in Vancouver for specific advice tailored to your injury and condition.

By Dr. Zavosh: Burrard Chiropractic and Custom Foot Orthotics