For more information on pregnancy and on incontinence, please visit the Pelvic page (above right).
To Ice or Not to Ice...and What About Heat?
- Only ice – not heat -- should be applied in the first 72 hours following injury, for ONLY 2-3 minutes, wrapped in a slightly damp towel (the damp towel prevents frostbite).
- Combine with elevation above heart level and compression when possible
- Ice every hour or two during the daytime for the first 72 hours post-injury
- If you don’t feel like 2-3 minutes is long enough, remove the ice for 10 minutes, then re-apply for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove ice right away if the area becomes numb – even if it has been less than 2 minutes
- People with circulation issues, Reynaud's disease, or Rheumatoid arthritis should not use ice
- Do not place ice over open wounds
- 72 hours after the injury, it is safe to try heat for 10 minutes. Moist heat penetrates deeper than dry heat.
- If you feel better with heat, keep using it no longer than 20 min. at a time, every two hours as needed.
- Do not fall asleep with a heating pad on or wear a hot pack all day. More than 20 minutes at a time can damage your skin in the long-term and make you less likely to benefit from heat application in the future.