Cold, Heat & Compression treatment : Sports Injury Treatment

Cold Treatments

Most sports injuries require a form of cold treatment such as Ice packs which is used as an immediate form of relief and may be used in soft tissue injuries and in rehabilitation. An ice pack can aim to treat the injured area by reducing the bleeding in the tissues and preventing and reducing swelling. The effect of the ice can reduce muscle spasms and work to numb the area whilst limiting the swelling from becoming worse. Ice packs can benefit the injured area by reducing any access tissue fluid which may be present as a result of the injury and inflammation.

An ice pack can be made from in a tea towel or a packet of frozen peas which is quite commonly used as an ice pack. Purpose made cold ice packs can be purchased from a pharmacy. It is recommended to use a cold wet flannel underneath the ice pack. The ice pack should immediately reduce the pain especially if pressed in gentle motions on the affected area. There are many forms of ice treatment wraps which are specifically made to heal areas such as the shoulder, knees and neck.

Ideally ice should be applied on the affected area around 5 minutes after an injury has taken place for about 20-30 minutes.


Compression is used as a treatment to reduce swelling and is normally done hand in hand with the cold ice treatments. Compression treatment involves bandaging the swollen area with a bandage wrap. If the bandage wrap feels tight or you feel pain or tightness in the swollen area remove the bandage and allow the affected area to rest. Compression is often a method of treatment used alongside what medical professionals term the R.I.C.E which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. The R.I.C.E method of acute injury treatment is used on injuries such as a muscle pull a tear or strain and compression is a key component in reducing the pain.

Heat Treatments

It is important to note that heat treatments should not be used on a fresh new injury as it can make any bleeding considerably worse. Heat can only be applied 48 hours after an injury has occurred as any injury that incurs bleeding would need ice treatments immediately. Heat treatments range from hot water bottles, heat pads and medicated deep heat creams. The effect of heat treatments is that it helps to make the blood vessels dilate which promotes circulation of blood into the affected area. Heat treatments have a direct soothing effect on the injured area which can relieve the pain. Precautions need to be taken when performing any treatment with heat as if done incorrectly it can cause burns therefore the skin must be regularly checked.

Ice is often recommended as being the better option for treating sports injuries due to its immediate effect and the fact that the treatment can be used as soon as you have injured yourself.

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