Ice VS Heat?

Ice VS Heat?

Patients have often been advised to use heat by other health care professionals when treating their ailments. Although heat is generally good for assisting with chronic conditions like stiffness of joints, it really only soothes for the time we’re applying it, with no therapeutic effect thereafter.

For most acute inflammatory conditions, ice actually soothes and helps heal, as it acts as a cheap, topical anti-inflammatory. Although it isn’t terribly pleasant whilst being applied, it’s generally something we encourage for the conditions we treat.


The general trend is to apply it for 10 minutes at a time, on the half hour, every half hour, for 1hour eg:

  • Start at 5pm – 10 minutes,
  • then at 5:30pm – 10 minutes,
  • then at 6pm – 10 minutes again.

We suggest NOT using a dishcloth or towel to wrap the ice with. Preferably apply it directly, using frozen peas or ice cubes (in a packet or zip-lock bag). These should always be RUBBED over the affected region and not left on the spot, as this may cause the skin to burn.


Ice generally burns and aches on the applied skin, and eventually the area becomes (temporarily) numb to the touch.

As already noted above, do NOT apply ice by simply leaving it on the skin, as this will burn the skin in the involved region.

You will find ice generally helps soothe your affected area of pain, and helps ease post-treatment soreness.

Although there is always going to be some debate between health care professionals regarding heat vs ice, be sure to always speak to your health care professional if you are unclear about whether to apply heat or ice.