We recommend ice for the first day or two after you suffer an acute injury. Applying ice helps reduce circulation, which, in turn helps decrease the amount of swelling after an injury. An easy reminder for reducing swelling and pain is RICE Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. You can use moist heat after the first 72 hours to increase the blood flow to the injured area to reduce pain and stiffness.
For more chronic injuries, the use of ice or heat depends on the injury and response to therapy. We always caution patients to never use a heating pad in bed as even on low heat settings severe burns can occur.