Joint Pain? Should You Use Ice or Heat?


dealing with neck pain

Ice or heat? That’s the question…when it comes to joint pain.

Today Dr. Gill talks about whether you should use ice or heat for back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, basically any kind of joint pain you might be having.

Speaking in general terms, ice is usually the best for acute conditions meaning the injury happened in the last 72 hours or the last three days. Those types of injuries are typically going to have a lot of inflammation which is your body’s way trying to protect itself and start the healing process. Typically, though our bodies produce too much inflammation which can be painful and actually slow down the healing process if we are not careful. So ice is usually the best thing to numb that area, cool that off, and to help get that inflammation.  and heat generally speaking is best for more chronic conditions like chronic muscle spasms and realty tight muscles. we typically use heat after the patient has been in the office for some time and and it’s been at least 3 days since the injury if not longer.


Heat is good to relax the muscles and just to make the patient feel better overall. Now there’s danger in using the wrong one at the wrong time. For example, we’ve had patients that put heat on the injury too soon after an acute injury–this will result in inflammation in that area and can cause more pain and more suffering. Now putting ice on chronic painful conditions is probably not going to have bad side effects of putting heat on an acute injury, but it may not have the benefit that you would get from putting heat on that same injury. So it’s important to use the right one at the right time.

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