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Marketplace Physical Therapy Tip- What is better, heat or ice?

Heat vs Ice

A Tip From Dr. Steve!

As a Physical Therapist, one of the most common questions I get asked is “what is better, heat or ice?”My response is that it depends upon the stage of healing.

In order to reduce inflammation and injury Dr. Steve describes what option is best for the right speedy recovery.


In general ice is best when inflammation is involved, such as immediately after an injury. When a joint is swollen ice is also the preferred modality. Apply ice for 12-15 minutes, repeat every few hours if needed. The beauty of ice is that there are no side effects, as many anti-inflammatory medications may have.


Heat is a modality many patients prefer for chronic conditions such as arthritis; conditions that have been an issue for a while. It should be used for 20 minutes, no longer. Remember to use a towel between the hot pack and your skin to avoid burns.

These are very general guidelines for use of heat/ice. It’s always best to seek the advice of your PT to determine your best mode of treatment.

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Published on: July 8th, 2015

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