Jun 11, 2019


Announcer: The Health Minute produced by University of Utah Health.

Interviewer: So you think you sprained your ankle. Should you ice it, or should you heat it? Dr. Emily Harold is a sports medicine physician. What should I do?

Dr. Harold: Typically, ice decreases blood flow to an area, which causes less swelling, whereas, heat will bring blood flow to an area, which can cause more swelling. Usually, in the first two to three days after an injury, we would recommend ice only. You put the ice on for about 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure you put something between the ice and your skin so you don't freeze your skin, because you can get freezer-burn. Once it's been about three days, you can put heat on the injury. Especially for muscle injuries, that tends to help warm up the area.

Typically, the rule of thumb for us is, after three days, you would ice after you do an activity, and you would heat prior to doing the activity. That way, you bring the blood flow before the activity and warm up the area, and then after you're done, you put the ice on to decrease any inflammation that might develop afterwards.

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