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ice on an injury

I fell and hurt my knee yesterday and it is still swollen. Should I put ice on it now? I iced it a bit yesterday but someone said that it was "too late" to ice the day after ... I guess I don't really understand what icing does ...

Fri. Jul 28, 12:21pm

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I was a trainer through high school and it's not too late to ice. Ice helps the swelling go down and helps it heal faster. Whatever you do don't heat it! Also just do intervals of icing so you don't hurt the like 20 minutes on 20 off.

Friday, July 28, 2006, 12:25 PM

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"don't heat it!"
why not? i recently pulled my neck and used the "therma-heat" pads and they seemed to work great. when is the heat called for? i've wondered a lot about this topic!

Friday, July 28, 2006, 12:35 PM

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Ice is a vaso-constrictor; it constricts blood vessels. Icing damaged tendons or muscles that are inflamed will prevent torn open vessels from swelling so much, and from further compressing normal blood flow to body parts. Cooling the injured area reduces inflammation and helps the healing process. Use ice as soon as possible after an injury, or when you feel pain starting. Elevating the injury, as well as wrapping for compression will also help prevent swelling. There are times when the injury is still bleeding (internally) for two or three days, and ice should be used every 20 minutes with no heat on the affected area. A simple way to judge the self-treatment is to touch the area. If it feels warm, no heat should be used.

In contrast, heating tissues causes the blood vessels to widen. This widening can cause an increase in the leakage of blood from the capillaries and add to the swelling and pain. It is important to note that the blood that leaks into the tissues will later lead to inflammation, which slows the healing process.

Before an exercise activity, heat applications can help nagging, recurrently injured areas by relaxing the muscles so that the workouts can occur as safely as possible.

Friday, July 28, 2006, 1:38 PM

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thank you!

do you agree that it is not too late to ice on the day after the injury?

Friday, July 28, 2006, 1:44 PM

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various websites said that if you could still feel heat in the area, you can continue to ice it. (the above info was all from different web sources, BTW)

Friday, July 28, 2006, 2:02 PM

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Ice as long as it's swollen or hurts like a bruise. Ice will never hurt, and it will often help. It reduces swelling and inflammation.

Heat muscles when they're stiff or if they were hurt in an old injury. Don't heat bruises. If it "looks" like an injury, don't heat it.

Friday, July 28, 2006, 2:14 PM

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freeze some water in a dixie cup. once it is ice, tear the top rim of the cup off. you'll have sort of a push-up ice popsicle to rub on the injury. if you do it enough, it will conform to the shape of your knee. just stick it back in the freezer between uses.

Friday, July 28, 2006, 4:38 PM

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Just be sure to never apply the ice directly to your skin. You need at least one layer of cloth in between. Otherwise, you can give yourself frostbite!!

Friday, July 28, 2006, 5:05 PM

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i agree with the other... it's not too late! also i will link a great article that answered all my questions on ice vs. heat for injuries.


Friday, July 28, 2006, 6:39 PM

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You actually do not need a layer of protection between your skin and the ice, as long as you use ICE WATER. If you use a chemical ice pack, you will need a layer of protection because the packs are colder than ice.

The dixie cups work fabulously, but they melt all over the place. I've never been able to refreeze mine because after 20 minutes there is nothing left. If you are working on reducing swelling, you can also take 2 Ibuprofen (given no other associated medical risks).

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