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One of the most notable questions asked to our Palmdale Physical Therapist is, “How long should I ice an injury?” When should ice be applied, and generally how long should you keep the ice on your injured body part?

Most Palmdale Physical Therapist will tell you that ice should be applied to an acute injury for 10 minutes at a time.

Any longer than this could could end up in tissue damage to the skin by frostbite or lack of blood flow. You can apply ice a few times each day.

What Does Ice Do?

Most Palmdale Physical Therapist will tell you that when you injure a body part, your body goes through the inflammatory process to assist in healing the tissue.

Main aspects of inflammation include:

  • Increased tissue temperature
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Swelling

Your body is really amazing at sending blood and cells to an injured body part to heal it. That’s why our Palmdale Physical Therapist suggest you use ice to control swelling and pain.

When ice is applied to your body, it causes vasodilation, which puts a limit to blood flow of a specific body part. Most Palmdale Physical Therapist will tell you that limited circulation aids in keeping swelling down. The ice also aids in lowering pain signals that you may be feeling after your injury.

What Does Ice Do?

Most of the time, when you injure a body part, your body goes through the inflammatory process to assist in healing the tissue. Hallmarks of inflammation include:

  • Increased tissue temperature
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Swelling

Your body is generally really good at sending blood and cells to an injured body part to heal it. Almost too good. That’s why we use ice to control swelling and pain.

Experienced Palmdale Physical Therapist will tell you that when ice is applied to your body, it causes vasodilation, which limits blood flow to a specific body part.

That limited circulation helps to keep swelling down. The ice also helps to decrease pain signals that you may be feeling after your injury.

When you first put ice on, it should feel cold. After keeping ice in place on your injured body part for a few minutes, you should feel a slight burning sensation. This should only last for a few minutes, and then it will be replaced by an ache.

After the aching, you will notice that the ice is making your skin feel a bit numb. When you get to the numb feeling, it is time to remove the ice, regardless of the amount of time you have placed the ice on your body.

The CBAN acronym simply uses your own body’s sensations to tell you when to remove the ice.

Is Ice Really Needed?

Icing an injury has been the traditional wisdom for some time, but recent research indicates that it may not be absolutely necessary. Some studies even indicate that reduced blood flow to injured tissues delays the healing process.

After all, your body has been healing itself for a while now. Why all the sudden should we control that process by using ice?

Most Palmdale Physical Therapist will tell you that ice can help make your injury feel better, so many Palmdale Physical Therapist suggest using ice for only a short period of time. It may be best to keep the ice on for at least five minutes, and then off for 30 minutes to restore normal blood flow.

Making Your Own Ice Pack

If you don’t have an ice pack or if your ice bag melts and then freezes again into a big block of ice, your icing won’t be very usable.

You can make your own ice pack that you can refreeze over and over again without it becoming a big ice block.

Here’s how:

  • Place ice cubes and a cup of water into a plastic bag.
  • Add a few tablespoons of rubbing alcohol.
  • Seal the bag. The alcohol will prevent the ice from forming a big block in the freezer.

Icing in recent years has been under the radar. Is it really effective? Is it needed? One thing is for sure: it can help lower your pain and make you feel great.