When to Apply Heat or Ice before Getting Physical Therapy in Phoenix


After getting injured, either while working out or doing everyday tasks, fear and panic often set in. Your mind is filled with questions: What happened? I this a big deal, or can I walk it off? What should I do to make it better? Will I need physical therapy in Phoenix? Your immediate reaction after the incident could make a significant difference in your recovery, so it’s important to nurse the area with the right techniques and prevent further damage.

For most injuries, the first step is to stop activity and apply a heating pad or cold pack. To determine whether heat or cold is appropriate, think about whether the pain is acute or chronic. Acute pain is usually caused by recent trauma, like a fall or accident. Chronic pain typically develops over time from overuse or an acute injury that didn’t heal correctly.

For acute injuries, apply ice or a cold pack as soon as possible after the incident. Use it for 20 minutes a few times per day for a couple of days after the incident or any activity that aggravates it. This will help reduce pain and swelling. For chronic pain, like muscle strains or soreness, heat is the best treatment because it increases circulation and skin temperature where you apply it. Unlike ice, heat should be applied before exercises that typically cause the pain. Use it for 10-20 minutes to loosen tissue, increase flexibility, and prepare for your activities.

If the pain continues or increases, see a doctor to get a diagnosis and proper treatment plan. It’s tempting to put off visiting a doctor or let your body heal itself, but this could increase your recovery time and make it worse. The faster you can diagnose the injury and start treatment, the quicker you will get better. A doctor can also help determine whether you can heal on your own or whether it would be wise to get physical therapy in Phoenix.

For more severe injuries, a physical therapist can walk you through exercises that you can do at their office or at home to regain flexibility, strength, and mobility. They can also coach you on when it’s time to switch from ice to heat (or vice versa) in order to help you heal as quickly and completely as possible.

For more advice on how to nurse injuries, get back on your feet, or find a location near you, visit us anytime at www.foothillsrehab.com.


Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy