Ice packs are known to relieve pain, swelling and inflammation from bruises and muscular injuries. They also heal sprains and provide relief for conditions like arthritis.
How Ice bags Work:
Swelling is bodys natural response to injury but in the process it compresses nearby tissues causing pain and irritation.
Placing an ice bag on the affected area numbs the pain. It constricts the blood vessels and thus reduces the flow of blood in the affected area. This further reduces fluid build up in the area thereby suppressing any kind of swelling or inflammation.
When To Use Ice Bags :
Cold therapy is the most effective if applied immediately at the time of the tissue damage or when the bruise/injury is still fresh so as to subside the inflammation and acute pain caused by it. It also works as an avoidance tool for injuries by reducing inflammation in the body prior to any damage caused during vigorous physical activities.
Extremely useful in providing relief for injuries caused during high impact exercises. I Dont apply heat after exercise, advises Dr. Patrick F. Leary D.O.FAOASM, an osteopathic sports medicine physician from Erie, Pa. After a workout, ice is the better choice for a chronic injury. he adds.
RICE (Relative rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation):
According to Dr. Leary proper treatment of acute pain should be carried out in the following manner which can also be easily remembered by the acronym, RICE.
Relative rest : Putting the injured part to rest and minimizing its activity.
Ice : Apply the ice bag to the injured area.
Compression : Apply a light pressure wrap to the affected area, which will control the leakage of blood and reduce swelling.
Elevation : Raise the affected area so that the flow of blood is decreased eventually lessening the pressure.
How To Apply Ice Bags :
Further Dr. Leary also explains how to use Ice bags specifically;
- Apply ice soon after the injury, it is most effective if used within 48 hours after that its effect diminishes significantly.
- Perform an ice massage, rub the area gently with the ice bag instead of leaving it at one single point.
- Elevate the injured body part above the heart and then perform the ice massage this will further control the leakage of blood and thus will reduce swelling.
- Ice for 15-20 minutes only, dont extend beyond the recommended time as it may lead to further injuries and it may also result in frostbite.
- Allow the area to warm or at least normalize before the second session of icing. If the skin in bright pink it is definitely not ready, so just wait for about 45 minutes to an hour before it turns back to normal skin color for the next application.
- Repeat the therapy as frequently as desired but if the pain persist after 48 hours a doctor should be consulted.
Precautions To Be Taken :
In order to avoid any frostbite or ice burn, make sure that you limit ice application to 20 minutes and dont extend it any further.
Dont apply the ice bag directly on the skin and always keep a barrier in between your skin and ice such as a towel.
Patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, Raynauds syndrome, cold allergic conditions, paralysis, or areas of impaired sensation should avoid ice application.