1. “Should I use ice or heat and how should I apply it?”
This is a question that has no absolute answer ; it depends. But here are some general guidelines:
- as soon after injury as feasible, ice to contain the inflammatory reaction for 10 to 12 minutes at a time; damp towel application and at least 3 to 4 times daily (up to as frequently as once per hour). Generally, continue in this manner for first 36 to 48 hours. After that it may be appropriate to apply heat/ice alternately 2 minutes each for 12 minutes (starting with heat and ending with ice). If the swelling worsens, its too early and return to ice use only.
- if the pain is sharp; intense jabs and constant it may respond better to ice
- if the area is warm/hot to touch and skin is reddened; ice
- if the area is achy or generally sore or behaves with cramps/spasm/stiffness; then heat may be a better option for 15 to 20 minutes as needed up to every hour.
- if you know its over-used muscles but not torn; heat
- “if in doubt, ICE it out”. Generally speaking, you can get into less problem with mistakenly using ice than heat.
- you should try whichever option in the fully prescribed methods at least 3 times before deciding if it is helping. If you feel it isn’t, then use the other. If the other makes it worse then switch back.
- if you are someone who “hates or can’t tolerate the cold, finds it makes it worse” but the indications are you should be using ice, then try placing a hot pack on your abdomen or neck or other nearby area while applying the ice to the area in need. I have never had anyone say they couldn’t use ice with this tip and the problem was handled perfectly.
2. “Do I need the help of a physiotherapist after injury?”
If it’s a severe injury, that decision should be obvious. If you have made a visit to the ER, then a visit to the physiotherapist is a very good idea (remember doctors don’t always think of this and waiting weeks to initiate that connection to a physiotherapist can be more costly to your lifestyle and finances).
If your injury seems minor and it is not showing considerable and steady improvement (I am not implying recovered and cured but just significant change) within 2 weeks after the injury, then you should seek the advice of a physiotherapist. An assessment will determine how much intervention is required and what kind, even if it is just reassurance and more specific self-management advice.
3. “Can a physiotherapist help me and my …………..?”
Physiotherapists are highly trained health professionals that:
- promote optimal mobility, physical activity and overall health and wellness;
- prevent disease, injury, and disability;
- manage and/or palliate acute and chronic conditions, activity limitations, and participation restrictions;
- improve and maintain optimal functional independence and physical performance;
- rehabilitate injury and the effects of disease or disability with therapeutic exercise programs and other interventions; and
- educate and plan maintenance and support programs to prevent re-occurrence, re-injury or functional decline.
Physiotherapy is anchored in movement sciences and aims to enhance or restore function of multiple body systems. The profession is committed to health, lifestyle and quality of life.
This holistic approach incorporates a broad range of physical and physiological therapeutic interventions and aids, focusing on the musculoskeletal, neurological, cardio-respiratory and multi-systems.
Physiotherapists encourage clients to assume responsibility for their health and participate in team approaches to health service delivery.
Whatever your concern, a physiotherapist has something of value to offer you. Call for an assessment or more information and I will be glad to talk to you about it.