Dr. Heather Denniston is back sharing insightful information on pain relief therapy. Did you know that heat and ice therapy methods should be used to treat specific types of pain? Watch episode 36 of The Junk You Should Know Show to clear up the confusion of heat vs. ice pain relief therapy.

Side note, around the 0:49 mark of this episode, find out the new meaning of “snacks”… and it’s not food!  

Pain Relief Therapy – Heat or Ice?

What’s ice therapy? (3:53)

Ice is a muscle relaxer, pain reliever, and vasoconstrictor (closes down vessels). Common treatment methods include gel packs, ice bath, and ice massages. 

Note: Here are Dr. Denniston’s suggested application times to avoid frostbite due to overexposure. 

  • Ice pack: a maximum of 20-30 minutes only, then allow the tissue to return to room temperature before re-applying.
  • Direct ice or ice Bath: a maximum of 10 minutes only, then allow the tissue to return to room temperature before re-applying.

At the 6:04 mark, find out how to make your own ice packs so you have enough to rotate through.

Have you used frozen vegetables as an ice pack before? STOP! Frozen veggies don’t get cold enough to adequately treat pain or injuries.

Another common mistake is wrapping ice and gel packs with towels. The application area will not get cold enough for the ice’s anti-inflammatory abilities to work. 

What’s heat therapy? (8:27)

When applied therapeutically heat is a muscle relaxer, pain reliever, and vasodilator (opens up vessels). Heating pads (not a preferred method), hot water bottle, or a hot bath with Epsom salt are all heat therapy options. 

Extended heat therapy causes more inflammation because of its vasodilation effect. So just like ice, use heat in 20-30 minute cycles. 

Check out the 10:45 mark of episode 36 to find out how Joe made the wrong therapeutic choice that ruined his vacation. Poor Joe!

Next step contrast therapy (16:56)

For pain that hasn’t fully resolved after 3-7 days. Contrast therapy is the next step. It’s a combination of ice and heat used in alternating cycles. Heat then ice, heat then ice, and finally ending in ice. 

So, what’s Dr. Denniston’s preferred method? Watch the full episode to find out!

In case you missed the LIVE session, check this week’s episode of The Junk You Should Know Show right here!


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Heat or Ice for Pain Relief Therapy?