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Icing Your Knee: Does It Help?

Whether it be for pain relief or to speed up the healing process. Icing has been shown to be beneficial in both cases, Icing is a popular treatment used to soothe pain and inflammation in the joints. Whether you have an old injury or just want to ice your knees after a long day of hiking, icing can help bring down swelling and ease discomfort. The best part is that it’s easy to do at home, with a few household items!

 

Knee Pain Treatment at Home

Whether you sprain your ankle, break your leg, strain your calf or suffer from arthritis; one thing is certain—you probably have some pain, swelling and stiffness that you would like to remedy.

For the first couple of days, you probably iced your injury, but is that helpful? What about for weeks on end? Is it safe to ice an injury long-term? The answers are surprisingly complex.

Although there used to be a time when ice was the only treatment for an injury, we now know that other effective treatments exist. In addition to other treatment options, ice should not be taken lightly.

Heat or Ice for Knee Pain

Well, the short answer is, it depends on various factors. How does ice help? Heat is often considered bad for an injury. In fact, many people believe that heat actually causes injuries to worsen. This is because heat causes blood vessels to expand, which causes an increase in the flow of blood to the injured area.

However, it has been shown that ice can actually decrease the amount of bleeding at the injury site by constricting the capillaries. Decreased blood flow means there is less swelling and fluid build up. Thus, icing an injury can be a critical first step to treating a sprain or strain.

The reason heat works well on more serious injuries is because heat relaxes the muscles surrounding the injury, which will reduce your level of pain. Ice, on the other hand, only numbs the nerves that are transmitting pain signals to your brain. As previously mentioned, you must also use pressure or elevation as a method of pain relief along with icing the injury, which reduces your risk for further injury.

However, it is important to note that ice does not decrease the pain of the injury; only the swelling and inflammation. Therefore you must also use other methods such as applying pressure or elevating your leg in order to make yourself more comfortable.

 

Can Icing Make Knee Pain Worse?

 

In order to answer this question, you have to first understand how ice affects your injury. Ice helps by decreasing the swelling that normally occurs after an injury. In turn, less swelling means there is room for your body’s natural healing process to take place sooner. However, as mentioned earlier, ice only decreases the swelling, not the pain.

The reason for this is because ice paralyzes your nerves, which normally send pain signals to your brain when you injure yourself. However, in order to effectively numb the nerve, an extremely cold temperature must be used—and that can actually worsen some types of injuries. For example, if you have a rotator cuff injury, the ice will numb the nerve and decrease your pain. However, you should not apply ice to a shoulder sprain because it can cause more damage to the already damaged ligaments by numbing the nerves that tell you that something is wrong.

For another example, if you sprain your ankle and apply ice to the area for an extended period of time, then you could end up with more problems than you started with. This is because when ice numbs the nerves, it also affects the nerves in the area surrounding the injury. This can increase your chance of developing blood clots or even lead to frostbite or hypothermia, which can be life threatening.

However, icing an injury correctly provides numerous benefits that include: decreasing inflammation and swelling around the affected area, numbing the nerve so you do not feel as much pain and speeding up the recovery process by taking advantage of your body’s natural healing abilities.

The Best Option: Heat Versus Ice for Knee Pain Relief

Although there is no definitive answer to this question, there are pros and cons for both heat and ice. If you have a minor sprain or strain, then cooling your knee with an ice pack is the best option. However, if you have a more serious injury such as tendonitis, bursitis or your muscles are in constant pain; applying heat to the affected area can be beneficial.

In order to help ease your knee pain and reduce inflammation, you should apply heat if: your sprain/strain is minor and does not restrict your physical activity, you can move or bend your knee with minimal pain and you suffer from chronic knee problems such as tendonitis. However, if you have a more serious sprain/strain or the area around your injury is very swollen, then application of an ice pack to the affected area will provide better relief because it numbs the nerves that transmit pain signals to your brain.

The reason heat works well on more serious injuries is because heat relaxes the muscles surrounding the injury, which will reduce your level of pain. Ice , on the other hand, only numbs the nerves that are transmitting pain signals to your

 

Can Icing Make Knee Pain Worse?

Yes, applying ice in the wrong fashion can exacerbate your injury and/or lead to further complications. So when in doubt, err on the side of caution and stick with heat.

However, if you have a more serious sprain/strain or the area around your injury is very swollen, then application of an ice pack to the affected area will provide better relief because it numbs the nerves that transmit pain signals

Conclusion

Knee pain is common among adults, with 3 out of 4 people experiencing knee problems at some point in their lives. Those who are affected will often need to find a treatment plan that works for them. Fortunately, there are many exercises and treatments available including home remedies and medical options. One option you may want to consider is icing your knees because it can provide relief from inflammation and swelling around the injury as well as numbing nerve endings so you don’t feel as much pain. It’s important to remember how ice works on different injuries though- if the area around your sprain or strain isn’t swollen then application of an ice pack should be just fine but if it does swell up significantly then applying heat could give better results by relaxing tight muscles surrounding the injury

 

The information on this page is deemed reliable on a best efforts basis. However, it should only be seen for information, educational, and entertainment purposes. It should not be taken as medical advice, and this website assumes no liability. Always consult a medical professional before proceeding with any self treatment or  supplement.