Is Heat or Cold Better for Muscle Pains?

\"shutterstock_130094549\"Heat or Cold?

Although both are good self-care options that can help you deal with pain without having to go to the doctor, or as part of home care after seeing the doctor, heat is better for muscle

pain. Cold also has its role to play in home care. In many cases, this is a better approach to pain control than even over-the-counter pain medication.

Heat for Sore Muscles

If you routinely get muscle soreness or if you are suffering soreness from overexertion, heat can help. Heat soothes muscles and joints that have been affected by strenuous work. It works by relaxing your muscles.

How to Use Heat for Muscles

There are many ways to get heat to sore muscles. It’s just important to make sure you aren’t delivering too much heat and that it’s comfortable. You can supply dry heat using a heating pad. Another good solution is a sock or stocking full of rice that can be microwaved to provide heat. It conforms nicely to the body and can be applied anywhere. Use jasmine rice, and you’ll get a pleasant, relaxing smell, too. Hot pads, either chemical heat pads or reusable gel pads, can also be used.

For moist heat, try taking a warm bath, shower, or using a towel soaked in hot water.

Apply heat to the muscles for about 15-20 minutes, then take some time off. You can use it a again in a couple hours if necessary.

Remember to avoid direct contact between your skin and heating pads, hot gel packs, and other sources of extreme heat. If it burns, take it away from the skin.

When to Use Cold

Cold treatments aren’t used for sore muscles, they’re used for a fresh injury, such as a strain or sprain. They are designed to reduce the pain of these injuries. If there’s a fluid accumulation around a joint, swelling, or the area looks red, cold should be applied. Applying heat to these areas could increase the pain.

When to See a Doctor

If you use either heat or cold for more than 24 hours and the pain doesn’t diminish, you should see a doctor. You should also see a doctor if you use these or any other home care continuously for a week. If you experience the same pain every day, it’s important to see a doctor to explore the causes of your chronic pain.

For help with muscle or joint pain, please make an appointment with Dr. Andy Fine in Littleton today.

Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on pinterest
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment

Family Medicine Conveniently Located in Littleton, CO


20 W Dry Creek Circle
Littleton, CO 80120


7:00am - 5:00pm
Mon - Fri


(303) 703-8583

Book Your Appointment

Scroll to Top