Should you use ice or heat for your pain?

Many people ask me whether ice or heat is better for their painful condition. Typically for acute conditions such as a rolling your ankle, bending and hurting your back, or getting a sore shoulder from throwing a football around, you need to ice. For chronic conditions such as back pain lasting more than 3 months, sore muscles from sitting too long, or chronic strains, heat may be used.

Why ice or heat? Ice is used to decrease swelling and inflammation. The body naturally produces inflammation to help heal injured body tissues, however, there can be too much inflammation causing unnecessary pain. This is a good time to ice. Heat is used for chronic conditions because it can help restore blood flow into an area.

How should I use ice or heat? Both ice and heat when placed directly on the skin can cause irritation or even a skin burn. It’s important to always place something between your skin and the ice/heat pack like a thin towel or a t-shirt. Typically 15-20 minutes of using either heat or ice is enough time (more is not always better). If you want to use it more than once per day leave an hour in between icing/heating sessions.


Dr. Kauffman is a licensed chiropractor in Loveland, OH. He serves patients in Cincinnati and the areas of Mason Ohio, Lebanon Ohio, West Chester Ohio, and Loveland Ohio. Please call us today at 513-444-4529 for an appointment with your Loveland Ohio chiropractor, Dr. Kauffman.

  1. dr kauffman

    Dr. Kauffman is a licensed chiropractor in Loveland, OH. Patients travel from all over Cincinnati and the Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky regions to seek our uniquely effective care.