After Sprain | Use Ice or Heat?
Anytime after sprain, you can use some acupuncture to help accelerate the recovery.
A sprain is an injury to a ligament caused by stretching or tearing of the fibers of the ligament. Ankle sprains are the most common type of sprain. Wrist, knee and thumb sprains are also common. Sprained ligaments often swell rapidly and are painful.
Sprain causes a lot of capillaries break and rapid bleeding, which results in local blood stagnation. More and more blood and exudate can't be eliminated or absorbed, and the joint becomes swelling. Usually after 24 hours, most of the capillaries have stopped bleeding and the swollen joint is in a more stable state. The body is starting to slowly absorb the stagnation and accumulated fluid.
Use Ice or heat?
Ice or cold compression is to lower the local temperature, cause subcutaneous vasoconstriction and reduce bleeding and swelling. Meanwhile, cold can somehow "numb" the nerve endings and reduce the pain.
Therefore, within 24 hours after sprain, we can use ice or cold compression to effectively relieve redness, swelling and pain.
When shall we use heat?
Heat increases the local temperature and blood circulation, accelerates the absorption of stagnated blood and exudate. Heat is good for a faster healing. Meanwhile, heat can improve soft tissue's flexibility, prevent stiff joint and muscle spasm, and relieve the pain.
Therefore, after 24 -48 hours, if there is no continuous bleeding and swelling in the local area, we can use heat to help.
No matter ice cold or heat treatment, only do within 20 minutes each time. Cold compression can repeat every 1 - 2 hours. Don't lay the ice directly over skin, wrap it with a towel. Heavy massage or pressure is not advised to avoid second time injury.
Warm towel about 40 degrees celsius can be used as heat treatment. 15 - 20 minutes each time and 1 - 3 times a day.
Extra caution has to be taken to those with less sensitive sensory nervous system such as after-stroke or diabetes patients, or someone with peripheral vascular disease. Check the skin color change constantly.
Within the 1 - 3 weeks after sprain, reduce activity. When the local swollen is diminishing and pain obviously is reducing, do some joint exercise starting from slight movement to gradually increase the amplitude.