Know What’s Best to Reduce Joint Pain: Cold v/s Hot

February 22, 2023by Pooja K221

Anyone in the house from the kids to elders may suffer from a sudden muscle pull, joint pain, and stiffness. And before you could reach the doctor, your neighbours might advise you to try hot or cold compression over the affected area. But we often get confused about whether we should be using a hot water bag compression or an ice pack on the area. It’s essential to understand the precise use of these two treatment methods as these two are absolutely opposite ways to treat. In this article, we’ll help with expert opinions on this topic. 


Hot Compression on Pain


Applying heat compression to the affected area that is inflamed will expand the blood vessels for better blood flow. This further results in a reduction in intense pain caused by the muscles. There are many cases where the treatment is given only after reviewing the problem. For instance, those who are suffering from arthritic painful joints or persistent muscular pain can be treated well with warm compresses rather than ice packs. Moreover, the duration of heat application each time should not be more than 20 minutes. Also, it can be done up to three times a day. Heat compression work excellently on osteoarthritis, to warm up stiffed muscles, on sprains, neck or back spasms, or to reduce lower back aches.


Ice Compression on Pain


The blood flow over the injured area tends to decrease when ice compression is applied. It further helps reduce the possibility of tissue damage and swelling while reducing inflammation over the injured area. Someone who has a swollen or may be painful joint or muscles can surely benefit from the treatment of ice pack compression. However, the doctors recommend this treatment to work best when done within 48 hours post-injury. It can also help in cases of recent injuries or osteoarthritis. The duration of cold compression is restricted to 10 minutes only.


Ice Pack V/s Hot Water Bag Compress


Now that we know how both compression treatments work against pain and stiffness. It’s obvious that some injuries can be treated best with heat packs whereas some of them can settle down with ice packs. The application of a hot water bag or an ice pack totally relies on the type of injury and intensity of the pain one is suffering from.


Applying a hot pack compression can surely increase the blood flow in the injured area while easing muscular spasms. But ice pack compression is known to restrict blood flow which ultimately reduces inflammation and swelling. Therefore, the final verdict would be: it’s better to ice packs if there’s inflammation associated with pain. But those with discomfort at the joint or pain due to osteoarthritis can go for hot water bag compression. In case the condition doesn’t improve, ensure to see the healthcare expert.

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