Using ice on large muscle areas of the neck or back is not helpful, early or late after an injury. If there is a neck or back sprain, the muscles tighten normally to splint the injury and provide plenty of compression. Bleeding or swelling is therefore usually not an issue. So, ice in this situation has no advantages. Further, it has the disadvantages of over tightening muscles, often with more pain. It can also precipitate muscle spasms.
With its numbing effects, ice can temporarily mask pain, but it will increase muscle tightness, and it can increase pain and increase the risk of clots. Can it be a good tool, and is there a reason to use it? Yes, however, if ice is the only tool we use, it will never be enough to fully get over the problem.
Another Blog Article by David E. Smalley, M.D.
This article is on a principle of general interest that is covered much more in depth in the book, The Miracle of Pain. The content is educational and should not be used as medical advice.
The original photos below emphasize the wonders of nature around us, which reflect the miracles within us.
May 29, 2019 -- Is ice good for pain?
Patients often ask me about using ice for pain that has persisted for several months. They tell me that another professional told them to use ice, but they noticed that, if it helped, it helped only temporarily. Then they decided to seek better answers from me.
Ice is best used within 24 to 48 hours after an injury, sprain or fracture of an arm or leg. It should be used in conjunction with stopping activity, elevation of the body part and limited movement that does not hurt. Other good tools are a compression bandage, splint or support. If a fracture is a possibility, x-rays are very useful.
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