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Is Ice Or Heat Better For Pain Relief?

Cold therapy and heat therapy have both been used for centuries to help treat everything from injuries to muscle stiffness.

Whether you use ice or heat for pain depends on what is causing the pain. Neither is ideal for all types of pain. Each form of treatment has its own uses. The two can also be alternated as well.

It’s simply not possible to get through life without tearing a ligament, straining a muscle, suffering from knee pain, being injured in some way, suffering a headache, etc. When experiencing any type of pain, it’s important to know whether heat, ice, or a combination of both would provide the relief you need.

Ice Treatments

For injuries, ice treatments usually win out – especially if there is inflammation involved. The cold temperature reduces the amount of blood flowing to the injured area and helps bring down the swelling.

Products include icy gel packs, Vapocoolant sprays, ice baths, Cryocuff machines, etc.

Here are some of the problems for which cold therapy is ideal

  • Headaches – Ice should be used to numb throbbing head pain.
  • Strains (such as groin strain, hamstring muscles strain, calf muscle strain, back strain) – Ice helps to ease the inflammation of injured tendons or pulled muscles.
  • Flare-ups of gout – The use of cold therapy helps to calm the flare-ups and numb the pain of chronic, inflammatory arthritis in areas such as the big toe, ankle, wrist, instep, etc.
  • Tendinitis – For acute irritation after physical activities, ice numbs the pain and eases the inflammation.

Heat Therapy

Also called thermotherapy, this type of treatment comes in many forms: hot cloth, saunas, electric heating units, FIR heat therapy wraps, heating blankets, and pads. Heating pads are the most commonly used products, as they are easy to use, affordable and convenient.

Heat treatment can be applied as dry heat or moist heat.

Thermotherapy can be used to help treat the following

  • Arthritis – When worn away cartilage causes chronic joint and muscle stiffness, moist heat provides relief. It helps to relax the tight muscles in areas such as the knees, elbows, and shoulders.
  • Neck spasms – Moist heat provides relief to the pain and helps to keep the neck relaxed.
  • Strains – AFTER the inflammation problem is taken care of with ice therapy, heat can then be applied to ease the stiffness.
  • Tendinosis – After swelling goes down, heat can be used to reduce chronic stiffness and soreness in tendons attached to joints.
  • Exercise – if you tend to feel achy after a workout, you might be able to prevent some of that achiness by soaking in a warm bath or taking a hot shower before you begin.

Use Caution

Whether you use ice therapy or heat therapy, you don’t want to overdo it. It’s normal for your skin to look a little red after using either type of therapy. However, you need to rest and let the redness go away before you applying a new ice pack or reusing the electrical heat pack or blanket. Also, as warm and comfortable as it might be at first, never fall asleep with a heating blanket on.

Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following after using ice or heat treatment(s): swelling, hives, blisters, or a dark red colour that won’t go away, even after you stopped the treatment.

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Phoenix Rehab Physio Services

Phoenix Rehab Group works with specialist physiotherapists and rehab therapists who are highly trained, qualified, experienced and passionate to provide high level of expert care to our patients.


Patients who sustained injuries to their elbows, forearms, hands, wrists (sprains and fractures) and fingers, usually will benefit / require Hand Therapy to

  1. manage and decrease hand pains
  2. improve range of motion, strength and dexterity
  3. increase the function of their hand following injuries or post-operations

Commonly treated hand pain injuries includes


Clinical Pilates is a form of physical exercise that focuses on posture, core stability, balance, control, strength, flexibility and breathing.

It is a system of safe and effective exercises, which meet specific individual needs, to treat a wide range of injuries and conditions.

You may do Pilates as matwork or with the reformer or both, and every session will be customized 100% to your fitness, injury and tolerance.


  • Cupping TCM
  • Auricular Therapy TCM
  • Herbal TCM Medicine & Supplementation


Sports and deep tissue release massage helps to increase nutrient-rich blood flow to tired, tight and tense muscles to accelerate recovery and  shorten downtime / recovery period required.

It also prevents muscles from scar tissue micro-tears (and potential ruptures), and increases muscle performance. Having regular deep tissue and sports massage will keep your muscles healthy and fit with body/movement-confidence.

Read the benefits of regular deep tissue release therapy here.


All our allied health therapists and TCM physicians are fully insured and registered with Allied Health Professions Council (AHPC) and Traditional Chinese Medicine Board (TCMB).

See our entire team here with introductions and their specializations.

At the first session, our specialist physiotherapists will carry out a thorough assessment, helping them to select the most appropriate treatment to help you recover as well as provide treatment in the same session.

Follow up sessions are inline to provide expert treatment for your pain as well as prescribing specific exercises to reduce your risk of re-injury and giving you a long term solution.

do Tell Your Family, Friends And Colleagues About Us =)

We appreciate you as our valued clients and want you to know that the # 1 way we grow as a clinic / brand is through word of mouth referrals from valued patients like yourself.

We prefer not to rely on advertising - instead, we prefer and appreciate the goodwill and positive reinforcement from patients. When you have the chance, please tell your family, friends and physicians about the positive results and experience you have had in our physio clinics.

book an appointment today
(or check your pains / injuries)

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