Heat vs. Ice

There are 10 seconds left and you are down by four, the quarterback steps back and throws you the ball in the endzone. You make a diving, game winning catch that earns you praise from your teammates and fans but you suffer a prained ankle. As the pain, inflammation and swelling increases, your first thought is which one is better: heat or ice?

The swelling of an acute injury to a joint puts pressure on the sensory nerve endings which increases discomfort while trapping blood and inhibiting lymphatic flow which will delay the healing process. If you put heat on the injured area, this causes more blood flow to the area which will increase the inflammation and swelling.

The preferred treatment for most injuries is to apply ice, which decreases swelling and inflammation to the injured area. When the swelling is reduced, the combination of heat and ice will facilitate the healing process.
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