Ice vs Heat for Treating Your Knee Injury
When dealing with a knee injury it's hard to know what treatment will work best for you. You might be wondering if ice and heat will work for you. Or maybe even which will work better - ice OR heat.
Icing and heating are 2 of the most natural treatment options available. Compared to medications, surgery and other treatment methods - icing and heating have been around for centuries and have always been used for knee injury healing as a means to soothe and heal.
We understand that it can get pretty confusing to figure out what conservative treatment method will work best with all of the treatment options available to you today. To get started, you should think about the benefits you'll get from using these therapies.
What's Better to Treat Your Knee: Ice or Heat?
Ice and heat are the best treatment combination for you if:
- You're looking to boost the natural power of pain relief and healing in your body.
- You don't want to repeatedly pay the cost (both from your wallet and time needed for long-term healing) of injections, medications, hospital visits or surgery.
- You want to help reduce the risk of re-injury, pain or swelling in your knee.
- You want to control your own treatment and healing at home, on your own time.
- You're looking for a tried, tested, and true method of healing that's been used for centuries and has worked for countless other knee pain sufferers.
How to Use Superior Temperature Treatments to Heal & Relieve Pain from Your Knee Injury!
Combining cold and warmth is a simple yet effective way to get immediate pain relief and promote long-term healing. In your lifetime you've probably had your mom, family doctor, nurse, surgeon or physical therapist tell you to use ice right after you're injured and something warm from time to time once the swelling's gone down. It's a simple yet very effective way to relieve pain and promote healing in your knee.
Knee injuries can happen to anyone, right now there are thousands of doctors and physical therapists dealing with patients that require a solution to treat their knee injury fast and heal it (where possible).
If you want to be proactive about properly dealing with your knee pain, speak to your doctor about adding conservative temperature treatments to your recovery with MendMyKnee's system using a Cold Compress or Ice Pack and Soft Tissue Repair Therapy with a Knee T•Shellz Wrap®.
The MendMyKnee At-Home Temperature Therapy Healing System Gives You:
- Registered FDA medical devices available for use at home.
- A Knee T•Shellz Wrap® (Soft Tissue Repair Therapy) Energy directed into the knee soft tissue where it's needed.
- Soft, plush, neoprene wraps - flexible and comfortable for exceptional treatment.
- A Treatment Formula adhering to the RICE concept - with an T•Shellz Wrap® used to increase blood flow circulation before activity and cold used to relieve pain / swelling after activity.
These tools will help you achieve long-term healing results and prevent re-injury.
Both Hot & Cold Treatments are Important
People get confused with how ice and heat work to relieve pain and heal. They also get confused with which temperature treatment is better for their injury and how to get the right amount of "ice" or "heat" for effective treatment.
When it comes to using ice and heat for treating knee injuries, it's important to keep in mind that both ice AND heat are very effective ways to relieve pain and heal. Most people will think one is better over the other from their own experience or what a doctor / physical therapist has previously told them.
The only difference between using ice and heat is that 1 is better for you at a specific time in your healing cycle. Ice is used first, right when you get your injury, to decrease pain / swelling and inflammation. Heat comes later, to increase blood flow circulation and stimulate the body's healing response.
So which is better?
They'll ultimately work for you in the same way. Each temperature has its own unique benefits for your knee, and when used togther they provide a powerful advantage to long-term healing. You may already know that ice or heat feels better on your knee, and this could influence your decision too.
The bottom line is that ice and heat are exceptional, natural, pain relievers and healers for your knee injury.
There are cases where some injuries will respond better to 1 temperature over the other. We want to help clear up the confusion so you know which is better (icy cold or gentle heat) and how to get the most from your treatment at home.
How Do You Use Ice / Cold as Pain Relief for Your Knee Injury?
COLD (ice) is used to treat injuries or conditions that are red, hot, inflamed, swollen and suffering from tissue damage (a tear or recovering from surgery). Cold therapy is a natural / organic pain reliever that numbs pain right at the source of your injury. While doing this the cold also stops cellular break-down and reduces the amount of scar tissue forming (this is very important after surgery).
Cold can Make Your Knee Injury Worse - How?
Applying cold can restrict blood flow and stiffen / tighten soft tissue. Cold is NOT a good treatment method for your knee when the tissue is already tight and constricted, because the cold will just stiffen the tissue further.
If you feel you have contricted or tight tissue, you should use a therapy that will increase blood flow instead - like Soft Tissue Repair Therapy (STR Therapy). Increasing blood flow at this time will help to relieve any tightness or stiffness. STR Therapy used at this time will also help to relax / elongate your tissue making it much more pliable for activity.
When Should You Use Cold to Treat Your Knee Pain?
Cold compression works best to relieve pain, swelling and inflammation for new injuries, re-injury and during immediate post surgery recovery. Cold therapy should also be used during the first 24 - 72 hours of treatment, combined with resting your injury.
If you've been suffering for some time with a chronic knee injury you should only use cold after activity causes you more pain or triggers more inflammatory response symptoms (red, hot, inflamed, swollen). This would be when your knee starts to hurt at the end of the day after you've been on your feet, active in athletics, or performing any other tasks that has put a lot of weight or stress on your knee. When used at this time cold compression becomes a natural / organic pain reliever, treating the site where you feel the pain.
Sometimes we feel pain while doing a certain activity - should you still use cold? Too much cold therapy can reduce your ability to heal correctly, because cold is a short term pain reliever not a soft tissue healer.
We put milk in the fridge so it will stay fresh longer. We do this so it will stay in the same condition as when we bought it. Your injury is no different. Too much cold will keep your injury in the same state - slowing down the healing process. This can sometimes make chronic injuries linger even longer. Heat (Soft Tissue Repair Therapy) should be used when you suffer from a chronic, tight or stiff knee injury and after you reduce swelling, pain and inflammation with cold.
Here are a couple of examples for when to use cold (ice):
You have an ACL (anterior crucial ligament) injury that's been on-going for quite some time.
You're having a "good day" (your injury is feeling fine) and decide to walk the dog a few extra blocks for a longer route. You realize afterwards that was a bad idea because your knee is throbbing and even more painful than the day before.
You should use COLD on your ACL to stop additional tearing or damage in your ligament and help ease the pain.
You previously suffered from a sprain in your patellar tendon.
Now you're trying to bring your vaccum cleaner up a set of stairs in your house to clean your bedroom. You forgot about your injury but realize it's there when you try carry, push or pull the vacuum up the stairs with you... Flexing and putting weight on your knee just reminded you of the sprain, and now you feel a dull ache in your knee. You stop and ask someone else to bring the vacuum upstairs for you (you stopped the activity that will cause more tearing in your patellar tendon). The pain was temporary and is now gone which means NO cold compression is needed.
In this case heat (Soft Tissue Repair Therapy) should be used to relieve the dull ache in your patellar tendon and encourage blood flow to your damaged tissue.
It's crucial to use cold after any sort of activity causes you on-going pain.
Use a Cold Compress or Ice Pack:
- 24 to 72 hours after your initial knee injury or when you first notice pain and swelling to stop cellular damage, relieve pain, and decrease swelling.
- After exercise, workouts or activity of any kind to prevent re-injury.
- Before and after surgery during rehabilitation to control pre and post-surgery pain and swelling.
- Anytime you feel your knee is tender, painful or you're having a flare-up of an older knee injury.
- Anytime you have swelling, sharp throbbing pain or inflammation in your knee.
- Any other situation where you need to draw the pain and inflammation out of your knee.
How Do You Use Heat / Warm Temperatures to Help Heal Your Knee?
HEAT (warmth) is used after you've reduced your swelling / inflammation and the sharp pain is less intense (you have more of a dull / nagging ache and soft tissue tightness in your knee). Warming up your tissue is a natural way to encourage healing of soft tissue. Increasing the temperature in soft tissue will result in increased blood flow circulation. It's the blood in your body that will bring oxygen, nutrients, antibodies and energy to your injured knee to help with healing.
Heat can Make Inflammation, Swelling and Newer Injuries Worse - How?
When we injure ourselves, we start healing right away. The body will naturally raise the temperature at the site of the injury resulting in the inflammatory response (redness, heat sensation, inflammation and swelling). This 'fake fever' leaks blood flow to the area to cool it down and start the healing process.
Adding 'heat' to the injured tissue in your knee when it's already inflamed and tender may make your body think there's a new threat to your tissue and increase the pain in order to get you to stop. For some people applying heat on inflamed / swollen tissue will cause the injury to swell-up even more (as much as 3 times larger than normal). You'll feel even more pain as the pressure builds in your knee.
Heat is NOT a good treatment method for inflamed soft tissue injuries, new injuries (within the first 24 to 72 hours), right after surgery or right after a re-injury (over-use and/or sharp, throbbing pain). In these cases, heat should be applied later on in the healing cycle. In the meantime, cold compression with a Cold Compress or Ice Pack should be used to decrease any inflammation induced pain.
When Should You Use Heat to Heal Your Knee?
Heat / warming temperature treatment works best to increase blood flow circulation and stimulate healing for older (chronic) injuries, re-injury (after swelling has been reduced) and during long-term post surgery recovery. Warmer temperatures should be used approximately 3 to 5 days after you first have the injury. Heat should not be started for a least 2 weeks after surgery because inflammation levels will be very high as the healing process starts over again. Any use of heat should also be combined with gradual movement to stretch out your knee and increase range of motion.
If you have a chronic knee injury that keeps getting re-injured you should use heat before activity to loosen up your tissue (making it more flexible). When used at this time the warm temperatures naturally extend the elasticity (elastic-nature) of the soft tissue in and around your knee, making it more movable / pliable for activity.
Sometimes we feel pain while doing a certain activity - should you still use heat? Using heat in the morning before you start your day or before activity can help to boost the healing process and reduce your risk of re-injury. Too much heat (especially when you suffer a set-back with swelling / inflammation) can make your inflammation worse. Cold compression with a Cold Compress or Ice Pack should be used part-way through your day when you suffer from on-going pain and inflammation as a natural pain-reliever.
Using heat is a good long-term plan because it will help to stimulate healing and can also be used on a preventive basis to relax constricted soft tissue. We use warm temperatures / heat to speed up the process of baking something in the oven or melting the snow outside, your injury is no different. Heat will speed up the natural healing rate in your knee by increasing your blood flow circulation. This in turn brings all the components your tissue needs to heal - oxygen, nutrients, anti-bodies and energy.
Here are a couple of examples for when to use warm temperatures (heat):
- You had a meniscus tear 2 years ago but that injury has healed and you no longer feel pain everyday. You just went to a new fitness / aerobics class and notice your knee feels stiff the day after your first class. There's no pain, inflammation or swelling, just stiffness / soreness where your old injury was. You should use HEAT (Soft Tissue Repair Therapy) on your knee before you work out to loosen up your soft tissue. Heat can be used again the next day if you notice any residual stiffness. If the stiffness remains, you should continue to use heat to make sure your old meniscus injury doesn't get worse.
- You occasionally feel sharp shooting pain under your knee cap that goes down your shin. You're not sure if you have an injury, but the pain seems to come and go only when you're on your feet for an extended period of time or walking, jogging, jumping or running. When you feel the sharp pain, the pain will continue to build up and afterwards your knee may feel weak or unstable. In this case cold compression with a Cold Compress or Ice Pack should be used as a natural pain-reliever. The cold compression will also decrease the amount of damage being done to your soft tissue. Rest may also be needed by avoiding the activities that make your knee pain worse.
Keep using a Knee T•Shellz Wrap® before activity and when you notice any stiffness in your knee to 'warm up' your tissue and stimulate healing.
With regular use of the Knee TShellz Wrap:
- Your pain will be reduced.
- Due to increased blood flow, soft tissue in the knee will recover at an accelerated rate.
- Your corresponding knee will have a larger range of motion and increased extensibility of collagen tissue due to increased blood flow and warmth in soft tissue.
Our high quality wraps are registered with the FDA as medical devices which meet high manufacturing standards.
Use a STR Therapy Knee T•Shellz Wrap®:
- After swelling and inflammation have been reduced with cold compression.
- Before exercise or workouts to warm up your knee & prevent re-injury.
- Before and after surgery during rehabilitation to warm up your tissues before physical therapy exercising or stretching.
- Anytime you feel your knee has stiffened up, is tight and your mobility is reduced causing you more pain.
- Anytime you have sore or aching tissue.
- Any other situation where you need to increase blood flow to your injury to relax your tendon, prevent re-injury and enhance flexibility of your tissue.
A Summary of How Ice & Heat Affect Your Blood Flow
Imagine you're standing in your living room at home. When the air in that room is at normal room temperature (ambient temperature), your body is in a comfortable state. Your heart rate and blood pressure are normal (or whatever 'normal' is for you').
Imagine the air has cooled down to freezing...
When the room becomes cooler your heart rate begins to slow down and your blood pressure increases. Your body does this automatically to retain heat in your body. At this time your soft tissue will also start to squeeze on and contract all of the veins in your body carrying blood flow. This also helps to decrease the amount of blood flowing throughout your circulatory system and retains the heat.
When cold is applied to a knee injury, all of your soft tissue will squeeze on the veins to slow down your blood flow. This in turn clamps down on the amount of fluid leaking into your injured tissue, decreasing your swelling. This is why cold is used immediately to treat newer knee injuries or re-injuries. The cold slows down your body to stop the amount of damage happening to your tissue and decrease your swelling. This cold also has a nice side benefit of numbing the nerves in and around your knee injury thereby decreasing your pain.
In the medical world this is something called 'Vasoconstriction'.
Now, imagine the air has warmed up enough that you start sweating...
When the room becomes warmer your heart rate speeds up and your blood pressure decreases. Your body is trying to increase your blood flow to cool down your body.
When heat is applied to your knee, your veins will start to get bigger (expand) to allow more blood flow through to your damaged or torn soft tissue. This in turn relaxes your knee, making the tissue more flexible and elastic. This is why heat is used on older (chronic) injuries, to loosen tissue and bring in the blood flow needed for healing. Your body will begin to heal itself after its' injured. Increasing your blood flow with heat will actually speed up this natural process.
Doctors usually call this process 'Vasodilation'.
Some other things happen when you're hot and cold...
When you're cold you'll start to shiver and your fingers, nose and/or toes will get coldest first. This again, is your body trying to retain the heat so all major organs can still function. When you're hot you'll start to sweat. Sweating is the body's natural way of cooling itself down.
Knowing when to use hot and cold and which is better for your blood flow is easy when you remember how your body reacts to cold weather vs hot weather. Both temperatures are helpful for natural injury healing when used at the right time in the healing cycle.
How to Use Consistent Deep Tissue Stretching to Improve Knee Strength & Health
For many people, the treatment won't just end there. Stretching is also an important part of tendon healing - and it's the final step needed when healing your knee injury with conservative treatment methods.
You would be suprised by how many people there are that don't understand the importance of stretching a knee injury. Before returning to full activity after an injury, physical therapists prescribe gentle stretching... This is because stretching is the secret of healing any soft tissue injury. Consistent stretching is one of the only solutions available to break up scar tissue that forms on your knee as it heals.
Stretching with use of a Cold Compress or Ice Pack and T•Shellz Wrap® is even better!
Stretching your knee is
more beneficial when combined with
A Deep Tissue Knee T•Shellz Wrap®
This helps to increase elasticity of tissue and stimulate blood flow before stretching.
There is a Unique Formula used for Knee Injury Recovery...
We're going to let you in on a key piece of information... In every physical therapy appointment your physical therapist will use conservative treatments, massage, manual manipulation and/or stretching exercises to give you this Professional 3-Step Treatment Formula:
Step 1 - Warm Up Your Knee
For this 1st step many physical therapists will use heat, manual manipulation, deep tissue massage, clinical ultrasound devices or a warm bath to warm up your knee. The goal during this first step is to increase healthy blood flow circulation and relax your soft tissue.
'Warming up' your knee will increase the elastic-nature of your soft tissue fibers making it much easier to stretch and when needed, hold the stretch. This will also extend the amount that you will be able to stretch your knee.
Increase Your Blood Flow Circulation at Home
Use a Knee T•Shellz Wrap® for 15 to 20 minutes at least half an hour before stretching your knee. An T•Shellz Wrap® will promote Soft Tissue Repair Therapy - a therapy that will increase the blood flow to your knee while warming up and relaxing your injured tissue. This treatment wrap will make your soft tissue fibers more elastic and pliable, allowing for more ease of movement when you're stretching and/or exercising.
Continued treatment with STR Therapy will also deliver much-needed oxygen, nutrients, antibodies and energy to your knee. This will boost your own natural healing ability and speed up your time for recovery.
Step 2 - Stretch Your Knee
The main goal of physical therapy is to exercise (stretch out) your knee to improve flexibility and range of motion. After the physical therapist has warmed up your soft tissue, they'll get you to do a series of exercises that are focused on stretching the area and surrounding soft tissue.
This exercise may include heel slides that are focused on moving your knee, quadriceps, groin, hip, hamstring, calf, shin and Achilles tendon.
Sometimes cardiovascular exercise, like using a stationary bike or treadmill, will be recommended under the supervision of your physical therapist.
Improve Your Range of Motion at Home
Your physician or PT can offer a stretching routine that will be beneficial to all of the tendons, ligaments and muscles in and around your knee joint. Stretch often as directed and increase your repetitions as movement becomes more fluid and natural for you.
Why are knee injuries so hard to over come? In two words - scar tissue.
Soft tissue is meant to be soft and flexible, ready to work and move extreme forces in everyday activities. A sprain, tear, or stain in your knee will heal with scar tissue; little tiny band-aids that overlap each other on the tissue mending the injury. With the added scar tissue the soft tissue in your knee becomes rigid, less ready to move and unable to recieve the full force of your movements. If you're suffering with scar tissue now you may feel the effects with stiffness, tightness, weakness and tiredness in your knee.
Scar tissue can form fast to bring together the edges of a tear, but working fast doesn't mean that the job's done right. When scar tissue forms it doesn't come together as neatly as regular (healthy) tissue would. Scar tissue fibers will lay down over top of your tear in a cluttered, messy and jumbled up way.
Imagine throwing a bunch of drinking straws in the air... When those straws hit the ground they'll land in a random, unorganized way. It even seems silly to think that those straws could land perfectly straight and all in the same direction.
Stretching helps to organize the scar tissue, increasing the strength of this tissue so it's more like the weave of a basket.
Step 3 - Cool Down Your Knee
Toward the end of your appointment your physical therapist may introduce cold compression, acupuncture, or TENS to relax your knee after the intense stretching and exercise.
Use a Knee T•Shellz Wrap® before starting your stretching routine. The T•Shellz Wrap® will help increase flexibility during exercise and decrease the risk of further injury.
Use an Ice Pack or cold compress after stretching or anytime there is a flareup of swelling in the knee.
Our Knee Therapy Formula is
Proven to Work!
It may seem hard to believe, but our Knee T•Shellz Wraps® is intended to assist you in recovering from your injury by reducing your swelling and inflammation induced pain and maximizing blood flow where it's needed most.
Here at MendMyKnee we pride ourselves in helping you with your healing and recovery process. Everyone at MendMyKnee has tested and used the products, finding solutions to conditions that do not fit into the norm. This dedication to our customers and our products goes hand-in-hand with our guarantees to you as a customer:
- Guarantee #1 - Use your products diligently for up to 60 days and you will experience a significant reduction in pain. If not, I encourage you to send back the items for a 100% refund.
- Guarantee #2 - You will not be left in the dark after purchasing any product from us. MendMyKnee Advisers and Product Specialists are available 5 days a week by toll free phone 1-866-237-9608 or email to answer your questions or concerns.
- Guarantee #3 - Your order is guaranteed to be shipped within 24 hours on every business day.
- Guarantee #4 - All purchases receive a one year, full replacement warranty with guaranteed, prompt service.
- Guarantee #5 - You could save hundreds of dollars and possibly more, by utilizing our products, and getting back to work sooner.
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