Hey, it’s Dr. Jake Berman!
Ice or heat as an anti-inflammatory? It’s one of the most common questions we hear regarding back trouble here at Berman Physical Therapy, and there are a number of things to take into consideration before we can answer it.
(Spoiler alert, it’s ice.)
The first thing to take into consideration: how old is the injury? Was it tweaked within the past 24-72 hours? Or is it chronic, nagging back trouble that has been around for many moons?
Is a muscle strained or overworked? Or is there a deeper problem with an arthritic joint, such as a degenerative hip joint?
Before we make a decision, we have to chat about the inflammatory process. With recent flare-ups, there is an active inflammatory process taking place. This means that heat and fluid around the affected area is INCREASING. You might be tempted to apply a nice warm heating pad to the sore part of your body, but this is actually going to make things worse! Don’t subject the area to MORE heat-you need ice for this kind of injury.
Now, let’s consider an “old” degenerated hip joint. A common complaint is that the joint feels “very stiff in the mornings, or after sitting for a long period of time, but it loosens up after walking for a few minutes.” Sometimes people are reluctant to use ice in these cases; after all, the ice makes the joint even stiffer. But it’s okay! Ice should not increase the pain with a joint problem, and it’s better to play it safe to avoid causing any excess inflammation to the area.
My take home message is ICE IS NICE! When in doubt, just ice it.
That’s all for this time! Stay tuned for next week’s blog!