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Heat and cold are some of the most common types of non-addictive pain relief therapies for treating muscle and joint pain. Depending on whether the pain is a new one or a recurring one, a medical practitioner will prescribe either heat therapy or cold therapy. A new injury causes inflammation and swelling. Here cold therapy is used as the ice will lower the amount of blood flow to the injured area, thus reducing the inflammation and swelling. Recurring pain can be treated with heat. This is because heat will cause blood to flow towards the injured area and thus promote healing.
Heat Therapy: Heat is used to open up blood vessels, thus increasing blood flow and supplying oxygen and nutrients so as to reduce pain in joints and help relax sore muscles, tendons and ligaments. The warmth of the heat also helps to decrease muscle spasms and can increase the range of motion. By applying superficial heat to your body, you can also improve the flexibility of tendons, reduce muscle spasms and reduce pain.
Most sources of heat either supply dry or moist warmth. Dry heat sources will dry the skin. Moist heat helps to penetrate even better. Heat can be applied by using an electric or microwave heating pad, gel packs or hot water baths. The heat supplied should be warm, not be too hot and should be kept at a consistent temperature. Consult your doctor or physical therapist about the heat source, which would be best for you.
Heat should be applied if one has stiff joints or joint pain. Never apply heat directly to the skin, instead always trap the hot device in a thin towel.
Cold Therapy: Cold slows down or reduces the blood flow to an injured area, thus reducing pain and swelling of the area. Cold therapy slows blood circulation, reducing inflammation. It should be used when the area is swollen or bruised. Cold is generally applied by an ice or gel pack.
Any cold treatment should always be used 24 to 48 hours after an injury. Cold therapy is useful for sprains, bumps and bruises that may occur during sports or lifting. You can apply the cold packs or ice bags to the injured areas for 20 minutes. It is advisable to remove the cold pack for a ten minute interval and then apply it again to the injured area.
While using cold therapy, use the ice pack for not longer than 20 minutes at a stretch. Wrap the ice or ice pack in a thin towel before applying it on the injured area. Do not use ice pack on the left shoulder in case you have a heart condition. Never use ice packs around the front or side of the neck region. Both cold and heat therapy are important and their usage depends on the type of injury and pain. If you wish to discuss any specific problem, you can consult a physiotherapist.
A nagging achy pain in the shoulder is something that all must have experienced, especially aged people. Some choose to ignore it while for others, the pain may be so debilitating that it interferes with daily routine considerably. Making an appointment with an expert orthopedic doctor should be your priority. Meanwhile, here are some easy to follow tips to manage shoulder pain:
- Applying ice- Shoulder pain is normally caused due to inflammation of the tendons, and since ice is the natural reliever of inflammation, you can get some relief with the application of ice. It can slow down blood flow to the affected region and thereby reduces the pain. You should apply ice for about 20 minutes and try to keep your shoulders at an elevated position.
- Paying attention to the neck- It is no surprise that the shoulders and neck are closely positioned, and they always have an impact on each other. Sometimes, shoulder pain is caused by neck pain, and both of them can be relieved by practicing gentle neck stretches at home. You should also replace old mattress and pillows and opt for thicker pillows for the desired level of support.
- Keeping the elbow by your side- This could aid to your aching shoulders. You may use an armrest or arm sling in case of extreme pain in the shoulders. But it is worthy of mention here that using this equipment for long hours is not at all recommended.
- Relieving stress- The most effective means of treating shoulder pain is to get to the root of the problem. Stress may be the cause of your shoulder pain, and therefore, you should allow some rest to the shoulder by refraining from exercise and physically strenuous activities. You should also try to review your daily activities such as sleeping positions, motions, and habits that may have an adverse impact on the shoulders.
- Warming up- You may use a heating pad to keep the shoulders warm and do some gentle exercise if it doesn’t cause any discomfort. This will warm up the muscles for a wide range of activities and improve circulation.
- Strengthening the rhomboids- The muscle located in between the shoulders is termed as rhomboids. These muscles are essential for normal shoulder movements, and it is important to keep them stronger to hold the shoulders in the right position and support the weight of the arms and perform pushing and pulling effectively.
Experiencing shoulder pain is an issue, but with these effective measures targeted at relief, you may manage it easily and take part in all the activities that you love to.
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!