Questions for your Dr. Before using Ice/Heat Therapy

As the customer service/sales manager at IceWraps, I have learned that people’s primary care physician or specialist, simply don’t give their patients enough advice on the type and duration of hot or cold therapy they need .

One of the most frequent question I get is “how long do I need to ice/heat and how often.” While I can certainly answer this in general terms each person’s needs are specific to their injury.

You may have one person who really needs to ice/heat for ten minutes another might need to go the full twenty minutes anywhere from once a day to three or four times a day. So while I will share this general information, I strongly suggest each person check with their doctor for their specific needs.

Of course, one of my big concerns is that some customers want to ice or heat an area longer then twenty minutes. Most people don’t realize that over icing can actually cause frostbite (actual damage to the tissue of the skin).

While it’s always my goal to give each person the best advice I can, as an online store, I don’t speak with most people who purchase from us. Likewise I am not a medical doctor nor are any of our other customer service specialists, so we’re unable to give specific medical advice.

So here are some general questions you should ask your doctor before using ice/heat therapy:

  • 1. How long should the ice/heat be applied per session? (general range 10 to 20 minutes)

  • 2. How many times throughout a day should I ice/heat (should wait at least 10 to 20 minutes between ice/heat therapy)

  • 3. How many days, weeks, months will I need ice/heat therapy?

  • 4. Should I be using just ice, just heat or a combination of both? (if both, generally ice followed by heat)

  • Be proactive in your care! Not only will this help you heal faster, this type of information will also help me or one of our other customer service specialists help you get the product you need.

    Rotator Cuff Injury – Treatment Options

    Do you play sports or have a job that requires you to participate in regular physical activity? While these types of actions may help you to stay in better shape, they also put you at risk for physical injury if you make a movement that your body is not ready for. If you think that you have injured yourself in your upper back or shoulder region, and it is interfering with the way your enjoy your hobbies or the way that you perform your job, you should know that you may have a rotator cuff injury that needs to be dealt with by a professional.

    If you’ve never injured your rotator cuff before, you might not know whether or not you truly have this injury or not. There are several symptoms that indicate that you might be looking at a rotator cuff injury, including intense pain in your shoulder. The rotator cuff is an area of muscles and tendons that help to connect your upper arm to your shoulder blade. If you’ve ever reached up to get something off of a high shelf or beaten your previous record in the back stroke, you have your rotator cuff to thank for that.

    What most people don’t know about rotator cuff injuries is that they are usually able to be healed on their own. Because the cuff is only muscle and tendon, you can’t really put in a cast or prescribe medicine that will heal it like a broken bone or an ankle sprain. If you feel a searing pain when you attempt to lift your arm over your head, you should definitely let a doctor examine your muscle tissue and provide you with a sling to stabilize the area while the body attempts to heal itself. This might be painful, and will take a lot of patience.

    If you are experiencing an unusual pain in your shoulder blade, your doctor will probably prescribe heat and ice treatments so that you can sleep and go about your day. If you are experiencing a throbbing pain, you can use ice or cold packs to numb the pain. If the pain is dull and aching, the heat will help it to melt away and loosen up the injured muscle. No matter what the causes or the symptoms are be sure that you request a doctor to look at the injury. In some cases surgery or more intensive rotator cuff treatments are required, and you don’t want to avoid them.

    Swelling – Causes and Treatment

    Having just had back surgery, it made me think of what goes on inside the body that causes the swelling and most importantly how to get rid of the pain. Since I work in the hot and cold therapy product field, I knew exactly the best way to treat it. I am often asked when should you use ice or heat and how do you know if the swelling is normal or bad. If you’ve ever had an injury or a surgery, chances are you have experienced the swelling that is caused by lymphatic fluid rushing to the injury site. Lymphatic fluid is the clear fluid that accumulates inside a blister. It is used to provide nutrition to the cells of the body and to remove waste. When cells become damaged, fluid rushes to the injury site and sweeps away any bacteria that may have accumulated. It is then whisked off to the lymph nodes where it can be filtered off and excreted from the body. If only it would take the pain with it.

    Swelling is a normal part of the healing process whether it is from surgery or a hard bump. The immediate swelling is typically blood that is accumulating from broken blood vessels caused by the trauma. Over time, if the injury is minor, the blood will be swept away by the lymphatic system, and the swelling will subside. It is often confusing trying to decide whether you should apply a hot compress or an ice pack or whether you should alternate the two. If you do alternate, there is always the question of how long each should be applied before switching. After my surgery, I treated it with ice to help reduce the swelling and to numb some of the pain. As time went on, I began alternating it with heat to relax the muscles that were damaged during surgery and reduce the muscle spasms. For both heat and ice you should remove the pack after about 10 to 15 minutes, and allow the skin to return to a normal temperature before icing or heating it again. Any longer and you can cause skin burns and nerve damage.

    Swelling can also sometimes signify infection or the presence of an irritating substance beneath the skin. This type of swelling is caused by a concentration of lymphatic fluid at the infection site. A fever along with pus and redness around the injured area with this type of swelling is a good indication you have an infection and should contact your doctor. Applying heat to the infected area can help relieve the pain and reduce the swelling. Just as the cold of ice causes blood vessels to constrict and reduce blood flow, heat causes them to expand, so that more blood cells can pass through and speed the healing.

    Another great thing about ice and heat therapy is that it has helped me reduce the amount of pain meds my doctor prescribed, therefore reducing the chances of me becoming addicted to them. Just another great benefit of hot and cold therapy.

    Can You Prevent Hair-loss from Chemotherapy?

    Chemotherapy drugs are specially designed medications that are programmed to attack cancer cells. Cancer cells grow rapidly which means that the drugs will also, unfortunately, attack other rapidly growing cells throughout the body– including your hair follicles. Because of this chemo can cause loss of hair and not just the hair on your head, but anywhere on your body. Cancer patients have reported the loss of eyelashes, eyebrows, pubic hair, armpit hair and other body hair. Different chemotherapy drugs and differing levels of dose can affect hair loss as well. For many cancer patients the loss of hair simply adds insult to injury. One new method for preventing hair loss is called cold therapy.

    Hair loss prevention for chemotherapy patients did not used to be an option. It was an accepted fact that the powerful chemo drugs simply took your hair. Recently it was hypothesized that if you could restrict or slow the blood flow to the scalp while the chemotherapy drugs were in the system it would provide a tool for hair loss prevention. Restricting the blood flow through compression or other methods was deemed not practical, but the specific application of cold to slow the blood flow was tried to some initial success.

    A cold therapy cap is placed on the head up to 15 minutes before the start of chemotherapy to begin the process of slowing down and restricting circulation. The cold cap is kept on throughout the therapy and for up to 1-2 hours after your chemo session has ended. Some people find the cold caps too uncomfortable and cannot tolerate wearing them for the time needed to achieve full efficacy. For the majority of people however, they can tolerate the cold in a bid to save their hair. This method is producing fairly good results with hair loss prevention and at least supplies an option to the old sense of inevitable hair loss.

    Cold therapy might be just the right thing for preventing hair loss due to chemotherapy. No longer does it have to be an automatic that you lose your hair when you undergo chemo treatments. Of course, like any medical treatment, this process is not 100% effective, and results will vary depending on what chemo drugs cocktail will be used. In addition, depending on what type of cancer you have restricting the drugs from your scalp may not be a good idea. The best bet is to talk everything out with your doctor to decide what is best in your case.