Ice Therapy - Self Help and Chiropractic
 You just hurt your back, ankle, knee, shoulder or elbow, etc., and are wondering what to use, HEAT OR COLD. The best rule of thumb for a recent injury, known as the acute stage of care, is to apply cold in the form of ice. 

In this phase, the injured area will likely feel warm, swollen, painful to contact or with movement, and has developed a localized muscle spasm. This initial phase will only last about 24-48 hours. This is the important time to apply ice therapy immediately to reduce inflammation and allow healing to progress.

For maximum benefit, ice needs to be applied at least 5 times over a 24-hour period, with at least one hour in between for circulation to return before starting the next ice treatment.

Size of body area   Sample area   Length of Ice Application in Minutes  
Hands, feet elbow
5 minutes
Neck, shoulder, knee, leg
10 minutes
Low back, buttock
15-20 minutes

Staying within these general time lines is a safe bet. The old saying, "a little is good, therefore a lot is better," does not apply here. If ice is left on too long, it will produce increased swelling and make the condition worse. After an acute phase has passed, the other phases of healing can proceed.

Unfortunately, Dr. Brody has seen patients who are 12 months post-injury who still have swelling, heat and local muscle spasm because they forgot to apply ice and take the injury through the acute phase of care