Thursday, May 29, 2014

Treating Injuries with Cold & Heat Therapy

Greetings, It's Thursday again! These weeks have just flown by- I can't believe it has almost been two months since we decided to embark on this journey. It has been an incredible experience thus far. I can't say for Danielle but as much handwork as it takes to keep up with it all I feel like every minute has been worth it.

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 Yesterday I shared an interview with my mom who is a chiropractor. I thought that I would keep with that theme and give you a little incite to treating injuries with heat and cold therapies. There are definitely a time and place for both mediums- knowing when and how to use them can sometimes be tricky.


Using cold with gentle compression after you suffer an injury helps stop bleeding in the tissue, relieves pain, reduces muscle spasms, cools the deep tissue, lowers metabolic activity, and reduces swelling and inflammation. It helps dramatically with tissue swelling because cold initially constricts the walls of the blood vessels and lowers the amount of blood that flows to the injury.

Cold's pain-killing effect is caused because it freezes the nerve endings slowing the nerve response triggered to the brain. It can also create a small window of pain relief that can allow the injured a time to rehabilitate without discomfort. Cold decreases muscle spasms by making the muscles less sensitive by stiffening the muscle and keeping it from being stretched.

Cold therapy is used for bruises, muscle pulls, strains and sprains. Apply ice with pressure and elevate the injured body part. Activity can be resumed gradually after the pain and swelling have gone and full use of the limb has returned. Cold eases pain  and helps restore motion.

Make sure to apply the cold therapy as soon as possible- the sooner the better. Continue using it for the next few days or until the swelling is gone. Make sure not to place the ice directly on the skin because you could suffer frostbite- using a damp cloth can keep this from happening.  Keep the ice on for 10 to 15 minutes every three to four hours. Sometimes people are unable to tolerate cold therapy because it can be uncomfortable.


Heat therapy should be used sparingly. It should ONLY be used during the repair stage of an injury when new tissue is being formed. This is usually 48 to 72 hours after the initial injury, once the swelling and bleeding have stopped and ice treatment has already happened. This is because it helps increase blood flow to the site and if there is any swelling this can increase damage to the tissue.

Heat shouldn't be used to treat small injuries, but like ice is can be used to reduce muscle spasms, relax the muscles and decrease joint stiffness. It can loosen tight muscles and joint stiffness. Moist heat is good for muscles that are sore, tired or overworked (epson salt baths can be great for these problems).  Heat is good for treating cramps along with stretching and massage. Although heat can help reduce muscle spasms, heat should never be used on ligament injuries like sprained ankle- it can relax the muscle too much and allow for further injury.

Hot water bottles, heating pads, warm soaks in the tub or shower, and warm moist towels are effective sources of heat therapy. Like ice it should not come in direct contact with the skin- for fear of skin irritation or burns. Apply heat for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. The proper temperature should not exceed 113 degrees. Do not sleep on your heat source.

I found this amazing guide to making your own hot/cold pack. They are super easy and only require a short list of supplies that you may even be able to find in your own house.

                                                             Hot/ Cold Therapy Pack

There are many different types of these homemade packs but I feel that the rice one seems to be the simplest.

Filler Options
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- Uncooked Rice
- Corn
- Barley
- Beans
- Flax Seed

Sometimes people add fragrant herbs to their sacks to tap into aroma therapy.

Ideas for Fragrance

- lavender, rose petals, ground cloves, ginger, rosemary, cinnamon, peppermint oil, etc...

Mix herbs, spices and essential oil with choice of filler and let sit in a sealed container for three days. 

Fabric Options

- Cotton Sheet
- Small left over fabric scraps
- Old Socks
- Washcloths
- Old Towels

Just make sure you have enough fabric to fill with your chosen filler and you will need at least 1/2 inch left to seal it all inside.


- Cut and sew the fabric in the size and shape you want (usually a large washcloth size works well).

- Leave and inch or two on one side so that you can fill pouch with your choice of filler- about 1/2 full.

- Once its filled, sew opening closed either by hand or machine.

Directions for Heating or Cooling

- If you want to use this as an ice back just leave in the freezer and use when needed.


Heat for 1 to 3 minutes, depending on size. Do not leave unattended. As a precaution, you can set a cup of water inside along with it to add moisture. This is especially important if you used dried herbs.

Hope that you all have a fun time trying out these really easy hot/cold packs!!


Ps. We had some really great posts this week. If you were interested in some more information on chiropractics please check out the interview on my mom, Lee Ann Herfort, and Danielle asks some really great questions in her post on Tuesday.

Don't forget to check back tomorrow when I will be blogging about creating the perfect healthy travel snack sack.

Disclaimer: PRTLIVING (and all of those feature and interviewed) is limited to providing self-help education in natural health matters and advocating of a healthy lifestyle for the sole purpose of sharing personal experiences and historical information about the traditional use of God-given herbs and natural remedies. This information is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any specific disease. No medical claims are made. If you have a medical problem, please seek the advice of your medical doctor.

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