Thursday, January 9, 2014

Regarding pain - using heat or cold?

The first thing to know is that if there is a "new" ache or pain, then inflammation is probably present. Imagine hitting your thumb with a hammer. It swells up with inflammation. Back pain, neck pain, and joint pain usually involve having inflammation as part of the problem. Often times patients who go to a chiropractor, and then ignore advice to reduce inflammation in between visits can expect that the problem will last longer. The tissue in and around a joint, which includes nerves, can become inflamed. Inflammation is very irritating to nerves. Without proper anti inflammation protocol (I will explain) a joint problem will continue. Here is a common thing that I see: A chiropractic patient gets adjusted, does not follow recommendations to reduce inflammation in between visits, and as a result the inflammation irritates the nerves associated with the joint and restarts the problem. Muscles go into spasm, pulling the joint back out of place, which irritates the nerves even more, causing more inflammation - and the cycle of pain continues. You can avoid this by reducing your inflammation in between chiropractic visits. Do not use heat on a "new" joint (back or neck or extremity) pain. Heat feels good, but it brings more fluid, increases circulation, to an area that has too much pressure, thereby increasing pressure and causing more irritation. Here is the anti inflammation protocol that I recommend: Ice - water - pill.
Ice: use a cold pack for 15 to 20 minutes several times throughout the day/night.
Water: drink a lot of water, which will help to wash the inflammation away from the inside out.
Pill: take some kind of over the counter anti-inflammation product.

Also, using a menthol gel (or something similar) that you rub onto the skin is often a nice addition to using the cold pack. It actually enhances the effects of the ice. Do not use heat with this type of a product as it can cause a burn.

 This will reduce inflammation and give your chiropractic adjustment the best chance to really take effect. As the joint calms down from the irritation, the associated muscles will stop going into spasm over time. It may take a number of visits to the chiropractor to re-train the joints due to the muscles being in spasm, which in effect , locked the joint into the mal-position.

Web sites with helpful information: and