Posted on July 05 2017
Should You Use Heat Or Ice For Knee Pain?
According to CDC.gov, Knee pain is prevalent in 18% of the US population. The incidence of knee pain is slightly higher in women than in men. Studies indicate that the pain gets worse with age and that obese and overweight individuals are highly susceptible to it. Other risk factors include osteoarthritis, fractures, overuse, gout and so on. If you don’t tackle knee pain early, the joint may degenerate to a level where surgery is the only option for treatment. As you know, knee replacement surgery is ridiculously expensive and complex. You definitely don’t want to walk down that path.
Knee pain can cause extreme discomfort and prevent mobility. This has a negative impact on a person’s social life and emotional well being. In many cases, it can even prevent the individual from working in certain environments and lead to heavy financial losses. Knee pain is one problem that you must nip in the bud or else it can destroy your life, really! If you think that is an overstatement, ask a person who suffers from chronic pain.
Physiotherapy, compression, light massage, icing (cryotherapy), heating (thermotherapy) and acupressure are all effective against knee pain – IF you do them right. All of these approaches are hassle free and inexpensive. However, there is too much confusion over whether you should use heat or cold for knee pain. Let us take a closer look at what the science says.
The Benefits of Ice for Knee Pain
Ice is great for fresh injuries. It provides relief against inflammation. It soothes swollen tissues. When you get injured, the white blood cells release chemicals that cause greater blood-flow and hence the tissues appear swollen, red and hot. Icing is a great way to numb the pain caused by swelling. It prevents muscle contraction and prevents the formation of scar tissue. Research shows us that when the temperature of the swollen area is brought down to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, nerve conduction is lowered – thus creating a drug-free pain relieving effect.
However, if not used right, icing can actually aggravate knee pain. Ice is NOT at all good for muscles that are stiff and tight.
The Benefits of Heat for Knee Pain
Heat is excellent for muscle pain, stiffness, stress and chronic pain. It helps to loosen and relax the muscles. It also alleviates tension and heat. Heat calms the nervous system. That’s the reason why a hot bath feels so good after a particularly stressful, nerve-wracking day. Heat is not always good though. Applying heat to an inflamed area can cause even more pain.
In simple terms, use ice for new injuries to reduce pain and swelling. After a few days, use heat to tackle stiffness, soreness and for relaxing the muscles. If you fell down or banged against something and hurt your knee, use ice to dull the pain and reduce swelling. After a couple of days, use heat to loosen’ the ligaments and muscles as this will facilitate movement.
If you suffer from chronic knee pain, use a hot/warm compress to ease symptoms. Activewrap’s Heat & Ice Knee Wraps are great for several types of knee pain since they stabilize the joint. The knee joint is made up of three bones – the shin bone, the thigh bone and the patella, which is commonly known as the knee cap.
These bones are held together by ligaments. They are also surrounded by cartilage and other components which help to mold the surfaces and maintain lubrication. An Activewrap knee wrap (pictured above) accounts for better pressure management across the joint and prevents exacerbation of knee problems.
Certain foods and vitamins can also help with knee pain management. Pineapples, beet-roots, almonds, walnuts, tomatoes, bone-broth, fatty fish and green leafy veggies fight against inflammation and help injuries to heal faster. Turmeric contains a compound known as curcumin which is super effective against swelling. Some studies prove that it is even better than aspirin and ibuprofen. Pineapple contains an enzyme called Bromelain, which also fights inflammation and prevents blood clots. No wonder people with heart problems and high blood pressure are advised to eat pineapple. Fatty Fish and nuts contain the all essential omega 3 fatty acids – these are indispensable for cellular well being.
Losing excess weight is a sure-fire way to ease knee pain. However, exercising can be tricky for someone with bad knees. High impact exercises such as running should be avoided. Swimming is perhaps the best full-body activity for an individual suffering from knee pain. Water has buoyancy and hence it reduces the stress on joints.
Contrary to popular perception, weightlifting is not just for building big muscles. It has tremendous metabolic benefits and aids in fat loss while preserving strength. Squats and leg presses should be avoided by people with knee pain. However, this does not prevent them from performing the bench press, military press, and other upper body exercises. Yoga and cycling are also good options. Activewrap’s Knee Wrap can help before and after exercise sessions and other kinds of therapy (acupressure, massage etc.) The potent combination of heat/ice and compression provides fast relief and enables you to lead a healthier, happier lifestyle.
Ice is hard and has sharp edges. Ice bags often tear and even if they don’t, vapour condenses on the outside and water dribbles onto the floor. This can lead to falls and other injuries. Activewrap’s heated & ice knee wrap does away with all this hassle. It is convenient and easy to use and clean. It also comes with a pain-free guarantee!
Nutrition, physical therapy and adequate rest are integral to knee pain management. Aids such as walking sticks, walkers and crutches also help as they reduce pressure on the joint. However, many people don’t like these aids as they make them feel old and weak. This is where compression wraps come in handy. They stabilize the joint and manage pressure effectively and yet they are barely noticeable.
Even people who are not injured can use compresses and hot/cold therapy. You don’t have to wait for an injury to start treating your knees with love. In fact, you can reduce the risk of injury by incorporating ice therapy into your exercise routine. When you workout, your muscles undergo considerable stress resulting in micro-tears. Icing helps to avoid inflammation in the area. If your muscles are stiff and tight, heat can help to restore movement and full range of motion.