- Cold treatment reduces inflammation by decreasing blood flow. Apply within 48 hours after an injury. Heat treatment promotes blood flow and helps muscles relax. Use for chronic pain.
- Heat boosts the flow of blood and nutrients to an area of the body. It often works best for morning stiffness or to warm up muscles before activity. Cold slows blood flow, reducing swelling and pain. It’s often best for short-term pain, like that from a sprain or a strain.
- Hot packs are a type of physical modality often used in physical therapy clinics. They are applied to your injured body part by your physical therapist (PT). Physical therapists wrap moist hot packs in several layers of towels, and the hot packs are then applied directly on the exposed area that needs treatment.