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Hot Fomentation vs Icing

Published on Dec 19, 2018 and last reviewed on May 27, 2022   -  4 min read

Abstract

Fomentation is the use of hot or cold packs to relieve pain at the location of an internal injury. This article explains its various applications.

Contents
Hot Fomentation vs Icing

What Is Icing?

When you injure yourself while doing everyday activities like walking or running, you should ice it. Swelling will occur after 24 hours, but during the first five days, the icing should be done for less than five minutes every one and a half hours. Some injuries will respond to icing alone, while others will benefit from a combination of icing for two to three minutes followed by hot fomentation for the same time. It is preferable, to begin with, icing if the injury is too old or chronic.

Ice cubes wrapped in a cloth or commercially available ice packs can be used for this. If the damage is to the wrist or elbow, always use a crepe bandage, and if it is to the ankle, always use an anklet.

What Is Hot Fomentation?

When the injury or pain affects a large area, such as the lower back or knee, hot fomentation should be used. Hot fomentation relieves lower back pain faster than icing. This must be done with a commercially available rubber hot bag or hot packs that can be reheated in the oven. The heat provided by the commercially available electric bag will not be sufficient to penetrate. Back discomfort, knee pain, and eye irritation are the areas where they work best.

A hot water bag is all that is required for knee and shoulder pain, such as osteoarthritis of the knee or frozen shoulder. If the patient is nondiabetic, only ten minutes of hot fomentation is required, and seven minutes if the patient is diabetic. The temperature should be lukewarm, not scorching. After fomentation, always use a local pain reliever ointment. If the portion is the lower back, always wear a lumbosacral belt, and if the knee is osteoarthritis (OA), always use a knee brace.

When to Use Icing Therapy?

Following an accident, it is a common confusion whether to use cold therapy or warm the region. The answer is dependent on the nature of your injury.

Icing therapy is used to treat acute injuries. Acute injuries are those that occur as a result of stressful events such as a fall, twisting movement, or direct blow, and are painful right away. Bleeding, inflammation, edema, and discomfort must all be addressed when an acute injury occurs. Ice should be used immediately to cool the tissues, reduce their metabolic rate and nerve conduction velocity, and produce vasoconstriction of the surrounding blood vessels.

Depending on the size of the area being treated and the depth of the wounded tissues, ice should be applied for up to 20 minutes at a time. It should be reapplied every one to three hours on a regular basis. You may want to alternate cold and heat treatments after the first three to five days of an acute injury, once the bleeding has ceased and there are no signs of inflammation. That is, administer cold therapy for ten minutes before applying heat for ten minutes. As the vasoconstriction generated by cooling reverses when heat is provided, increasing the blood flow to the area, resulting in a rush of blood to the damaged tissues. Before using this approach, make sure all bleeding has stopped. Blood is essential for giving the body all of the energy and nutrients it requires to restore itself.

Some of the conditions that can benefit from cold treatment include the following:

When to Use Hot Fomentation Therapy?

Hot fomentation is used to treat chronic injuries. Chronic injuries normally appear out of nowhere. They develop gradually over days, weeks, or months and are frequently caused by overuse or biomechanical abnormalities. An acute injury that fails to heal owing to a lack of or inadequate care can potentially result in a chronic injury.

Hot water bottles, a warm moist cloth, a heated massage, or commercially available heat pads should be used for 15 to 20 minutes of hot fomentation therapy. If a hot or warm water bottle or any hot application is used, make sure you cover your skin with a proper layer of protection to avoid burns.

Heat should be utilized to assist relax tight, hurting muscles and joints, increase the suppleness of ligaments and tendons, and promote blood flow to the area in general while treating chronic ailments. Heat treatment can also be used before exercise to warm up muscles and increase flexibility in chronic ailments.

Hot fomentation is used for a variety of purposes. They include

The only time ice should be used on chronic injuries is after exercise, to reduce any residual swelling.

When Ice and Hot Fomentation Should Not Be Used?

When handled incorrectly, both ice and heat have the ability to cause mild, transient injury. Inflammation can be exacerbated by heat. Ice can increase tightness and stiffness symptoms, as well as worsens the discomfort.

Both ice and heat are ineffective or even harmful when used when you are already shivering or sweating, respectively. The brain may perceive an excess of either as a threat, but the icing is more so, and when the brain perceives a threat, it may also increase pain. Most people seem to see ice as more dangerous.

Icing muscular pain should be avoided at all costs, as it may not be visible. You could think your back is hurting, but it could just be a muscle ache. Trigger points (painfully sensitive places) are often misdiagnosed as iceable injury or inflammation. When you ice trigger points, though, they may burn and pain much more. This is especially common with low back and neck discomfort, which are conditions that individuals frequently try to treat with ice.

Another particularly hazardous combo is heat and inflammation. When you apply heat to a new injury, it will worsen.

Conclusion:

Icing muscular pain should be avoided at all costs, as it may not be visible. You could think your back is hurting, but it could just be a muscle ache. Trigger points (painfully sensitive places) are often misdiagnosed as iceable injury or inflammation. When you ice trigger points, they may burn and pain much more. This is especially common with low back and neck discomfort, which are conditions that individuals frequently try to treat with ice.

Another particularly hazardous combo is heat and inflammation. When you apply heat to a new injury, it will worsen.

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Last reviewed at:
27 May 2022  -  4 min read

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