When Are You Supposed to Use Ice or Heat on an Injury?

Dr. Michael Michlitsch of Muir Orthopaedic Specialists explains when ice or heat should be used to treat an injury.

Question: When are you supposed to use ice and when are you supposed to use heat?

Answer: Ice should be used for the first 48-72 hours after an acute injury or until the swelling goes away. Ice should not be left on for more than 20 minutes at a time unless you have some covering on the skin to prevent an injury from the cold. Heat should be used on chronic injuries or still muscles or joints and should be used for 15-20 minutes at a time.

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