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Pain management

Everyone feels some kind of pain from time to time. Pain is the most common symptom of potentially thousands of injuries, diseases, disorders, and conditions you can experience in your lifetime. It can also result from treatments for conditions and diseases. Pain can last a short time and go away when you heal (acute pain). Or it can also last for months or years (chronic pain).

Pain management specialists help you regulate pain with medications, procedures, exercises, and therapy. To reduce or relieve pain, your provider may recommend one approach or a combination of several. You may receive care in a pain clinic, provider’s office, or hospital.

Following an injury, you’ve probably been advised to use ice, heat, or both. Depending on the injury, both hot and cold therapies offer advantages to aid pain relief. How do you know which one is best for you? The suggestions below can help you decide.



  • Use cold to aid acute pain and new injuries that are swollen and inflamed, such as sprains and recent tissue damage. Apply cold to the injured area.

  • For chronic tissue injuries, apply cold followed by compression after a workout.

  • After surgery, cold therapy may be an alternative to prescription opioids to help reduce pain, swelling, edema, and muscle spasms, as well as improve range of motion.


Heat may be better for chronic pain, muscle spasms, joint pain, or an injury more than 24 to 48 hours old. Heat stimulates blood flow and helps relax tight muscles.


  • A combination of heat and cold can be used after a recent injury to help keep swelling down and increase circulation.

  • For muscle tears or strains, start with ice and move on to heat when the inflammation has reduced.

  • Apply ice or heat for no longer than 10-20 minutes at a time.

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