Cold compress vs Hot compress

| Advance Pain Management
Cold compress vs Hot compress


Both hot and cold compresses help in pain management. But they are used for different types of injuries, aches and pains, depending on the symptoms. Heat compression helps ease chronic pain and cold packs are better for injuries, but it is better to consult a doctor if the symptoms are severe.


Hot compression


Brings more blood to the area where it is applied.


Reduces joint stiffness and muscle spasm, which makes it useful when muscles are tight.


Should NOT be used for the first 48 hours after an injury.


Warm towel

Dampen a towel with warm (not scalding) water.


Put on the affected area to ease muscle spasm.


Heating pad

Be sure to protect any type of heating pad device from coming in direct contact with the skin. Precautions should be taken to avoid burns, especially if you have nerve damage, such as from diabetes or other health problems.


When muscles work, chemical byproducts are made that need to be eliminated. When exercise is very intense, there may not be enough blood flow to eliminate all the chemicals. It is the buildup of chemicals (for example, lactic acid) that cause muscle ache. Because the blood supply helps eliminate these chemicals, use heat to help sore muscles after exercise.


Cold compress

Eases pain by numbing the affected area.


Reduces swelling and inflammation.


Reduces bleeding.


Types of cold packs

Ice towel

Dampen a towel with cold water.


Fold it and place it in a plastic, sealable bag.


Place the bag in the freezer for 15 minutes.


Remove from freezer and place it on the affected area.


Ice pack or cold compress

Put ice in a plastic, sealable bag.


Fill partially with water.


Seal the bag, squeezing the air out of it.


Wrap the bag in a damp towel and put it on the affected area.


When an injury or inflammation, such as tendonitis or bursitis occurs, tissues are damaged. Cold numbs the affected area, which can reduce pain and tenderness. Cold can also reduce swelling and inflammation.

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