The Three Phases of Tissue Healing

mechanics of healing

Everyone, at some time in their life will injure their musculoskeletal system.  Muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and bones all have their limits tested every day through our daily activities.  Back pain is one of the most common medical problems, affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lives (medlineplus/backpain).

In order for these injuries to heal, they have to go through a 3 phase process.  Depending on the injury and what stage of healing your tissue in, your Chiropractor will determine what type of care would be best for you.  All injuries are not the same and neither are people.  Having a professional rehabilitating your injury correctly so that the tissue can meet the demands and stresses you put it through.

The Three Phase Process of Healing

– Inflammatory Phase – This phase starts from when you injure the tissue and lasts up to 3 or 4 days usually.  If not treated correctly it can last many days longer.

– Repair Phase – This Phase starts when the inflammatory phase begins to calm down.  This phase lasts approximately six weeks.

– Remolding phase – This phase somewhere between four and six weeks and can last one and a half to three years.

When an Injury Occurs

When an injury occurs you need to decide first if you need to go to the emergency room.  Severe injuries should always be seen by a professional immediately.  If the injury is moderate to severe, ask yourself if the injury could give you long term problems or heal improperly such as a neck injury from a car wreck.  These types of injuries also need to be seen by a specialist such as a Chiropractor or Orthopedist.  If the injury minor you can usually rest, ice, compress and elevate the area (R.I.C.E.).

A sprained ankle needs a light compression like an ace bandage, elevated on a pillow, resting with a bag of ice 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off and repeat to keep the inflammation down.  The better you keep the inflammation down and prevent re-injury or micro-trauma, the better it will heal.

Injuries to your neck and back are not much different.  You always want to control the inflammation first.  Sometimes Chiropractors may even brace the tissue if it’s damaged enough.  It all depends on what tissue is injured and what phase of healing the person is in.

What’s Next When The Pain is all Gone

When you get to the point of the pain is all gone and you are feeling about normal, realize you’re not fixed yet.  The remolding phase can last one and a half to three years.  The healing will continue for a while after the pain is gone.

When the tissue is all repaired it will still heal for a longer time.  During that time the body will recognize the demands and stresses b you put on that tissue.  It will recognize the injuries to that tissue and will support that tissue to strengthen it to handle the demand.

Rehabilitating an injury

We are all unique and so are injuries.  Everyone heals almost the same.  Some heal slower than other, due to diabetes and age.  Whether you heal normally or slowly, we all go through the same stages of healing.  The foundation of rehabilitating an injury starts with the healing process.

The next time you have surgery, rehabilitate your lower back, break a bone or are on a care plan to fix your migraines, realize the doctors understand the healing process and what it is going to take to make that injury heal the best that it can.  Also, it will take time and be patient now that you understand this process.

Written by,

Christopher M. Lewis, D.C.

Vitamin D Part II

index

The heat index in Chattanooga, TN has been unrelenting this summer.  While walking on my grass I noticed the grass was crunchy from all the heat and no rain.  The hot temperatures have definitely made me stay indoors much more than I would like.  The less my skin gets blessed with sun light, the less vitamin D for my body.  Diet is not the only source.

Vitamin D is not just for bones.  Almost every tissue in the body has receptors for vitamin D.  Vitamin D is responsible for many functions in the body for you to remain healthy.

Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency is more common than people think.  My blood levels of Vitamin D when first taken were a shocking 11 out of 100.  I was very deficient.  My diet was great and I have adequate amounts of sun but that wasn’t enough.  I then started to supplement Vitamin D to make up for the deficiency.

Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency

◘ Weak or soft bones and possibly fractures

◘ Body pains and sore muscles

◘ Depression or moodiness

◘ Being tired and not feeling great

I had symptoms 2, 3 and 4 when I went to get tested.  You really don’t know until your Vitamin D starts to get back to normal and you remember how you felt before.  You kind of get use to the way you feel.

Factors Affecting Your Vitamin D

◘ The more north you live the less sunlight you get

◘ The darker your skin

◘ The more you weigh

◘ Your diet

◘ Sunscreen

◘ How much time you spend outside

“The problem is that most of us are simply not getting enough vitamin D to allow our bodies to work optimally at all of the functions that vitamin D supports.” (LifeExtensions)

Vitamin D’s role in the body is not just about bones.  Studies have shown Vitamin D plays a role in regulating many functions in the body.  These functions include: immune system, metabolic system, nervous system, cardiovascular system, mood and autoimmune system.

Vitamin D Part II was written to hopefully spark an interest in the reader to get their vitamin D check by their doctor.  Its role in keeping you healthy is vital.

Written by,

Christopher M. Lewis, D.C.

 

 

Importance of Vitamin D

getty_rm_photo_of_woman_sitting_on_dock

Summer is now in full swing. Kids are playing in the fountains at Coolidge Park. Lake Winnepesaukah is busy with all kinds of family fun. Many families go on their summer vacations and family reunions are always a wonderful time to get reacquainted. Whatever your summer fun it usually involves being outside in the sun.

I have a summer vacation story to share that changed my health forever that was actually stumbled upon by accident. So, let me get you in the mind set I was in before vacation. Work, Work, Work…kids, kids, kids…yard work, yard work, yard work….kids, kids, kids… no sleep…work, work work…stress, stress, stress…”Dad you wanna go play ball?”…Son, can I just rest for a minute? Ok, so you see, it’s time for a vacation.

My family and I travel to Hilton Head every year. It’s our favorite place to vacation. We had a great vacation and we were all very happy tan beach bums by the end of our trip. The last day I was at the beach I noticed how much better I felt. I usually very sore and achy and now I am not. I felt energized, healthy and my mood was fantastic. I asked myself, “Was this just vacation de-stressing me from life’s hurdles or is there something else I am missing?” The change in the way I felt was so dramatic that I had to get to the bottom of this. The only two answers I could come up with were I was either stressed or my body is depleted in vitamin D.

Looking at my life stresses they were few. Just typical stresses most people have. Then I remembered in graduate school I learned sun light actually helps control mood and well being. Seasonal mood disorders are seen a lot in the Northern hemisphere. I am quite aware of this because that’s where I am from. I know…I know I am a Yankee, but I got down here as fast as I could.

When sunlight hits skin it produces Vitamin D. Vitamin D has so many healthy functions for your body, some consider it the vitamin of all vitamins. My next step in this journey was to get my Vitamin D levels checked through blood work. I made an appointment with my doctor, discussed with him my concerns, and he agreed for us to investigate further with blood work. My labs came back a week later and to my surprise, my Vitamin D levels were an 11. Normal levels are 30-to 100 ng/ml, Optimum 50-100ng/ml. How could this be? I eat very well and take some outstanding vitamins and even supplement Vitamin D. It just wasn’t enough. I was put on vitamin D supplementation to increase my numbers.

In just a month my health greatly improved. My mood was great and my body didn’t hurt. I also didn’t get the flu or even a cold in the winter months. Being a doctor, it made me curious to learn more about vitamin D’s role in human health so I can share it with my patients.

To be continued…..

Written by,

Christopher M. Lewis, D.C.

Probiotic Benefits

intestine examination

When people think about the word bacteria they think disease, infection and antibiotics.  They think about when their kids get strep, pneumonia or drug resistant staph.  Some of us are even germaphobes that frequently wash our hands and keep things clean as not to get sick.

Not all bacteria are harmful.  Some bacteria that live in our gut are actually very beneficial to our health and well- being.  These bacteria are known as probiotics.

What Are Probiotcs?

Probiotics are good bacteria that live in your gut and keep it healthy.  They all have different functions but primarily they keep your digestive tract healthy.  People are starting to understand the benefits of probiotics and now are supplementing them by eating yogurt, other types of foods and in capsule form.

(http://dailyburn.com/life/health/foods-with-probiotics/)

Probiotics benefit your body

Probiotics are helpful to your body.   They mainly help move food through your digestive tract.  But research is now showing that these bacteria assist the body in many ways.

  • These probiotics actually produce vitamin K, Vitamin B12 and quite a few B vitamins.
  • Probiotics help prevent bad bacteria like candidas from growing out of proportion.
  • Probiotics help strengthen your immune system.
  • They help with diarrhea and irritable bowel problems.
  • They also help with constipation.
  • They eliminate waste and toxins.
  • Urinary and vaginal health.
  • Studies show babies get less eczema when using probiotics.

The most common forms are lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.  Mainly these are found in dairy products.  

When to use Probiotics

At Total Health Chiropractic in East Brainerd, I advise my patients; anytime they are on an antibiotic they should start a regimen of probiotics.  I advise them to take the probiotic in between the dose of antibiotics.  If they take two antibiotics in a day, they should take probiotic at noon.  I also advise that after they are done with antibiotic, continue taking probiotic till it’s gone.  This replenishes the entire good flora that was killed by the antibiotics.

We’ve got your back!

Written by,

Christopher M. Lewis, D.C.

Sunscreen Facts You Should Know

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Ahh, 80 degree weather is back in Chattanooga. Clear sunny days are going to become more of the norm. Outdoor activities will increase for most such as yard work, Harrison Bay boating, fishing and traveling to the beach. With outdoor activities comes sun exposure to your skin. This exposure increases your chances of damaging your skin. This damage increases your chance of sunburn, wrinkles and even skin cancer. Sunscreens can protect your skin from the damage UVA and UVB ultraviolet rays do to your skin.

Types of Ultraviolet Light

There are two different types of ultraviolet light that come from the sun or sun beds: UVA and UVB. UVB is what most people know about and is the type that creates sunburns. UVA differs because it penetrates deeper causing a deeper tan with no burn but yet can create wrinkles. Both of these ultraviolet lights can cause cancers.

Melanin

Melanin is what your skin cells produce that gives you your tan. The fact is melanin is what your skin produces after it has been damaged by UV light. So, before vacation to the beach, there is no reason to get a base tan first.

Sunscreen Facts

Sunscreen Fact: Not all Sunscreens are the same.

– Not all sunscreens protect against UVA and UVB
– Look for sunscreens that say broad spectrum to protect against both
– Sunscreens that have zinc oxide or titanium oxide actually are the best because they block rays
– Helioplex is a newer ingredient that protects against UVA and UVB

Sunscreen Fact: You can get sunburn on a cloudy day.

– Clouds block infrared rays that make you hot not UVA and UVB
– Wear sunscreen even on a cloudy day.

Sunscreen fact: Most people apply sunscreen wrong.

– Most people don’t apply enough sunscreen to cover their skin appropriately
– Apply to your ears and lips also
– Reapply every two to four hours
– Wear a hat because you can easily burn your scalp

Sunscreen should be applied every day if you’re going out into the sun. Clothes help block sun rays from damaging your skin. Apply sunscreen on any body part not covered up. Protecting your skin from burn, wrinkles and early aging are some benefits. The real benefit comes from protecting yourself from various skin cancers ( http://www.skincancer.org/).

When it comes to your health…We got your back!

Written by,
Christopher M Lewis, D.C.

How to Control Stress and Weight Gain

Stressed out?  Well, that goes for most of us and most of us don’t even know we are.  Everyday life has become so fast paced that sometimes it is even hard to catch up.  Day to day stresses have become so normal to us. They can have physiological responses that can be detrimental to our health and well-being.  (http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037)

When we live a stressful lifestyle and we don’t have good habits to cope with the stress, our cortisol levels stay at a heightened level.  This chronic level of cortisol will make you overeat and store the fat created in the abdominal area increasing your chances of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

In my previous blog, I explained what the big fat idea about stress was.  Now, let’s give you tips on how to manage that stress and combat cortisol driven weight gain.

Steps to Relieve Stress and Cortisol Levels

The way people cope with stress varies per person.  Incorporating healthy habits to relieve stress will also relieve your body of heightened levels of cortisol that can store fat in your mid-line.  Try to incorporate some of these healthy habits in your daily routine,

Take a deep breath once in awhile

When people are stressed they tend to shallow breathe quickly.  Taking the time to breathe properly has a natural calming effect.  Try taking 10 deep breaths periodically during the day.

Have a good night’s rest

Sleep helps your body recover from all the stresses you had all day.  Not getting enough sleep will keep more cortisol in your blood stream.  8 hours of sleep is the recommended amount for your average person.  There are some people that need even more than 8 hours, especially teenagers.  Lack of sleep will make you gain weight.  If you can’t get the recommended 8 hours sleep then take a nap.  Naps help your body refresh.  My son Dalton can take a nap and be a totally different person when he wakes if he has had a stressful day.  Like father like son ☺.

Controlling what you eat

Nutrition can have an impact on how you feel by causing serotonin to release.  Eating lean meats, nuts, complex carbohydrates like oatmeal, vegetables and oily fish like salmon that is rich in omega 3’s will help eliminate cortisol induced cravings without adding the fat.  Vitamin C rich foods also help control stress.  Cravings from cortisol are usually sweets and fatty foods. (http://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-diet-for-stress-management)  

Exercise

Besides losing weight, regular exercise helps battle cortisol.  This means exercising 3 to 5 times a week.  You can go to the gym or take a walk in downtown Chattanooga.  There are many trails for bikes and walking/running at Enterprise Nature Park at Volkswagen Plant. Take a look around Chattanooga; there are many fun activities you can incorporate in your exercise regimen.  I take my sons, Gavin and Dalton, geocache treasure hunting.  It’s an app for your phone that tells you with GPS where to find treasures people hide.  I make sure it’s a little hike for them to find the treasure to get some exercise while having fun.

Massage

Massage is a great stress reducer.  Taking tension out of your muscle and just relaxing can do wonders for your body.  Making it a habit will keep your cortisol under control and make you feel great by helping your body release dopamine ( http://www.news-medical.net/health/Dopamine-Functions.aspx) and serotonin (http://www.livestrong.com/article/154361-effects-of-serotonin-on-the-body/) .

Mental Outlook

Always try to accentuate the positives in life not the negatives.  Visualize a great day, a happy you and a healthy you.  When you have a very stressful day taking the time to meditate and clear your mind can change a bad day into a refreshing one.

All people cope with stress in different ways.  How to control stress and weight gain is by having good habits that limit overproduction of cortisol.  Living a stress free lifestyle is next to impossible.  But having habits that positively cope with stress is achievable by anyone and should be regular part of your daily routine.

Written by:

Christopher M. Lewis, D.C.

What’s the Big Fat Idea About Stress?

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Stress!!!  We all tend to have it.  Some have it more than others.  In this day and age it is next to impossible not to have any stress in your life.  Stress can come at you physically, mentally and emotionally.  Everyone reacts to stress in different ways.  I believe it is the way you look at those stresses and how it impacts your life.  Positively or negatively, the stress will affect your physiology.


What happens to your body when your stressed?

People react to stress in different ways.  During these stressful situations your body releases different hormones to help you overcome those stresses.  During the flight/fight response your body releases cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epinephrine) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norepinephrine)


 

Physiological effects of flight/fight hormones:

 

  • Appetite is suppressed
  • Alertness
  • Pupils dilate
  • Breathing increases for more oxygen
  • You think quicker
  • Heart beats faster
  • Fat is broken down for quick energy

Now your body is in battle mode.  Stress from a thought or you running from a bear can cause the same response physiologically.  Just everyday things in life can keep your stress levels high.

What happens to your body when stress leaves?

During your stressful periods in life your body releases cortisol, along with epinephrine and norepinephrine.  Cortisol and epinephrine work to mobilize fat and carbohydrates for energy.  Cortisol increases blood sugar also.  When the stress leaves, so does epinephrine and norepinephrine but cortisol stays around to bring the body back to normal or homeostasis.

The stress you encountered made your body use up all its fuel reserve.  Cortisol increases your appetite so you can refuel those reserves you depleted.  Those carbohydrates and fatty foods you crave are easily stored as fat in the abdomen area due to that area being good at storing energy.

Stressed Out!

In this day and age we are constantly in a state of stress.  Life has become a Now State.  Just look at our cell phones.  You can look up anything from directions to how to fix things on the go.  I can be walking in Hamilton Place Mall and look up what sales they are having at what stores.  This Now State has run over into our jobs, our kids, medicine and our relationships.  Most people have too much stress and don’t take the time to control that stress.  This results in too much cortisol lingering in our system.  This makes us tired, burned out and we eat to get energy.  This is the big fat idea about stress.

This article is part 1 of a 2 part series.  Follow my next blog on how to control stress….to be continued…

Written by,

Christopher M. Lewis, D.C.

 

Strategies to Prevent Back Pain

42961-chronic low back pain

Back pain is more common than one may think.  It is estimated that 80% of all adults will experience back pain some time in their life.  Some will struggle with persistent lower back pain for the rest of their life.

Lower back pain is the number one disability when it comes to work.  Many American’s jobs entail the employee to sit most of the day.

Understanding the risk factors and doing exercises can reduce your probabilities of acquiring lower back pain.


A Little Lesson on Anatomy

Understanding the anatomy of the human body will help you eliminate some of the exacerbating factors.  This will improve your quality of life and activities of daily living with less worry of re-injury.

The cushion in between each of your vertebrae is known as the disc.  Discs help with movement but also act as a cushion for your body weight.  Discs can become injured.  They can tear, bulge and even rupture.  Sometimes a bulging disc/herniated disc can cause sciatic.  This irritation causes pain to radiate to the buttocks and all the way down the leg. (webmd) http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/living-with-low-back-pain-11/causes?page=2


Strategies to prevent back pain (disc):

  • Avoid sitting as much as possible.  If your disc is injured, you will notice sitting increases the pain two fold.  Many jobs these days include sitting for many hours.  They wonder why lower back pain is number one for work disability.
  • Proper lifting at all times.  People believe you have to lift something heavy to injure a disc, this is misnomer.  You can bend over and pick up a pen and injure your disc just as easily.  If you ever observed a baby picking up a ball, the baby sticks his behind way out and then bends at its legs before lifting.  Children can teach us more than you know.
  • Do exercises that strengthen your core.  Planking is an excellent exercise for core strengthening.  Ask your Chiropractor for different variations of core exercises.
  • If you injured your disc, consult your Chiropractor immediately for diagnosis and treatment options.

Facet joints are two joints on the backside of your vertebral body.  The have fluid filled capsules that help with movement and stabilize the joint to prevent excessive movement.  Facet joints can become injured and swollen.  They have nerves that can become hypersensitive if irritated.

Examples of facet joint problems:

  • A pregnant woman’s lower back pain.  An increase in the lower back arch puts pressure on these joints.
  • Pain while leaning backwards.
  • Crick in the neck or lower back.
  • Headaches
  • Osteoarthritis happens in these joints if constantly put under stress.

Strategies to prevent back pain (facet joint):

  • Avoid anything that can increase the arch in your lower back.
  • Avoid sleeping on stomach.
  • Wearing high heels for long periods.
  • Core strengthening exercises.
  • Your Chiropractor can show you very specific back flattening exercises to take the stress off your facets.
  • If you injure your facets consult with your Chiropractor for diagnosis and treatment options.

Muscle overuse and fatigue is the most common of all back pain causes.  Pain and stiffness are the usual symptoms.  This type of back pain will usually subside in three or 4 days as long as it wasn’t a traumatic injury.


Strategies to prevent back pain (muscle pain and stiffness):

  • Regular exercise to strengthen muscles and maintain healthy body weight.
  • Increase your flexibility.  Regular stretching regimen, yoga and Pilates all increase flexibility and core strength.  If you cannot touch your toes you better start stretching.  Continue stretching as you get older.  Make it a habit.
  • Notice your posture.  Whether you’re standing or sitting proper posture decreases muscle fatigue.
  • Chiropractic care keeps your spine flexible.
  • Massage therapy.
  • Moist heat like a hot shower will loosen muscles and decrease the stiffness

There are many other types of back pain I could list.  For this article I just listed the most common that people suffer from.

If you do become injured, always ice the affected area 20 minutes on, then 20 minutes off to reduce inflammation.  Repeat after an hour.

Minor muscle strains should resolve in 3 or 4 days with each day improving.

If the pain is moderate to severe, not improving after a few days or radiates, contact your Chiropractor for an evaluation.

Christopher Lewis, D.C.

One Third of Your Life Is Spent Sleeping……Make It A Good One!

Ahhhhh…sleep, who doesn’t enjoy a good night’s rest?  Especially after working a twelve hour shift at Women’s East or at Hamilton Place Mall when you are on your feet most of the day.  Besides resting and feeling refreshed, it is the time your body repairs all the damage you created when you worked in the yard for 6 hours straight.  Sleep also rests your mind and makes it so you can focus again.  I always tell my patients, one third of your life is spent sleeping, make sure it’s a good one every night.

Questions always arise from patients about sleep.  How much is too much or too little?  What is the best position to sleep in?  What kind of pillow is the best to use?  What’s the best mattress to buy?  Why do I wake up sore?  All of these questions have pretty much, ran through all of our minds at one time.  I will try to help answers these questions to give you a better understanding of your body and what is needed for a better night sleep.

When we sleep our bodies repair the damage we create.  It also restores energy.  If you get a good night sleep you actually need fewer calories the next day to complete your tasks.

Your body recovers by the means of tissue growth and repair from hormones that are released when you sleep.  White blood cells become more active to attack bacteria and viruses.

Good sleep lessens your chances of getting depression and helps your brain sort out all the info it learned that day.  Helps you remember the important stuff you will need in the future.  Also helps with decision making.

You need about 7-9 hours of sleep to be well rested.  Now everyone is different, some need a little more and some a little less.  My sister needed 10 hours of sleep growing up or she was a cranky little one to put it nicely.  Sorry….Danielle, you still love me.

Sleeping on your back or sides are the best sleeping positions.  Sleeping on your stomach actually can stress your body.  When you lay on your stomach your lower spine is arched too much.  This is known as hyperlordosis.  This causes extra stress on your facet joints.  These facet joints are nerve tissue rich and will cause pain.  Ask any pregnant woman how their back feels with their hyperlordosis in the 3rd trimester.  

When you sleep on your stomach you also have to turn your head to one side to breath.  This is very stressful for your cervical spine.  Many chronic headache sufferers are stomach sleepers in my practice.  I always advise them to try to change their sleeping positions to help facilitate healing and to reduce exacerbations.

When it comes to finding the proper pillow everyone is different.  If you sleep on your side your pillow should be thin enough that your head extends slightly back to improve breathing.  If you’re a side sleeper, your pillow should be thick enough so your head and neck is not angled up or down.  Your neck should be straight, parallel to the mattress.   I sleep on my back and side so I use two pillows.  I use a down pillow when I sleep on my back.  When I roll on my side my down pillow usually supports my neck, if it doesn’t, I have a thin pillow I pull down under my down pillow for that extra support to straighten my cervical spine.

A common complaint from my patients is that they wake up sore.  One of the problems could be their mattress.  I advise them to look at their mattress and see if they can see a dip in the mattress.  Dips in your mattress are a sign of it breaking down and losing their support for your body.  Sometimes the dip may be on your partner’s side or their weight causes you to roll towards them when you sleep.

When buying a mattress don’t fall for their marketing prowess.  It is their way to make you want to buy their product and to charge way more than is needed.  Your mattress should be firm and supportive.  It is ok to get a pillow top as long as it’s not too thick.  You can always soften up your mattress later if need be.  You can run over to Walmart on Gunbarrel and they have a great selection of mattress toppers.  You can even cut them in half if your partner wants their side a different firmness.  The problem with a softer mattress is not a lot of support but also you cannot make it firm if need be.

One third of your life is spent sleeping; make sure you try to get the best night sleep you can.  Your body will thank you.  

At Total Health Chiropractic…We’ve got your back!

Christopher M. Lewis, D.C.

Do You Use Ice or Heat For Your Injury?

heat-pack-ice-pack

Driving to work today, I noticed all the trees changing color.  The mountain sides in Hamilton County look like a flower garden with all the reds, yellows, greens and oranges.  While the wind blows, the leaves fall from the trees and dance in the air.  This description is a beauty to some, but others it’s a fresh reminder of the mounds of yard work this fall season will entail. Yard work can put a lot of stress on your back and neck.  Straining muscles, injuring discs, spraining tendons/ligaments are all common injuries that occur with yard work.  If you don’t separate your yard work into an hour here and an hour there, type work your risk of injury becomes more probable. When an injury occurs, the common question that is asked by a patient to any doctor is, “Do I use ice or heat?”.  There are some rules when it comes to ice and heat therapy.  If you follow the rules, the treatment can be very therapeutic and help you bounce back quicker. Do you use ice or heat for your injury?  The one you use depends on the type of injury you have.

Is the injury a new and acute injury or is it an older, reoccurring type pain?  A new injury will cause inflammation and possibly swell.  The injury will usually be painful to the touch.  These type of injuries which are the most common, you would use ice on it.  The ice will slow down the blood flow and decrease the inflammation.  The ice will also decrease pain and relax muscle spasms.  If the injury swells or bruises, ice should be used.  Heat for these type of injuries should never be used, because it can cause the inflammation to become much worse.  It may feel good while you’re doing it, but the heat actually increases blood flow and will make it swell.  Ice can be used up to 4-6 weeks with an acute injury. Ice should be applied 20 minutes on, then 20 minutes off and then 20 minutes on again.  Wait for an hour then repeat.  Ice should never be applied directly to the skin.  Wrap the ice in a towel before applying.  Ice can damage the skin. Injuries that are older than 6 weeks, muscle stiffness or osteoarthritis respond better to moist heat.  Moist heat increases blood flow to injuries.  This brings nutrients and oxygen to the muscles and joints.  This will reduce pain, promote healing and increase range of motion.  Moist heat consists of hot shower, rice bag, gel packs, hot water bottles and Jacuzzis.  Rice bags and gel packs can be heated in the microwave and be reused often. Muscle strains and minor problems, heat should be applied for about 20 minutes followed with a stretch or exercise to improve the range of motion.  Some injuries may require more heat time then 20 minutes, but only if your doctor recommends.  Once again, heat should never be applied directly to your skin.  Make sure there is a thin towel in between.  Heat should never be applied, if you’re a diabetic or have poor circulation.  Open wounds or fresh injuries never apply heat.  Never fall asleep on a heating pad. Most patients’ injuries require ice.  If you ever wonder which to use ice or heat and your doctor isn’t around to ask, ice is the answer.

Christopher Lewis, D.C.