To ice, or not to ice? That is the question.

There seems to be a lot of confusion when it comes to the HEAT or ICE debate. I am going to help explain the proper usage of ice vs heat today. I want to start out by saying this recommendation is a rule of thumb, as there are always exceptions to every rule.

ICE- You typically want to reach into the freezer and grab an ice pack anytime you are dealing with a new injury (less than 72 hours). Cold restricts blood flow and reduces inflammation and swelling. Whenever there’s bleeding in underlying tissue—think sprains, strains or bruising—ice treatment is the way to go. You also want to reach for ice when there is inflammation present.

Inflammation is characterized by five cardinal signs:

  • Redness
  • Heat or warmth
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Loss of function

Aches and pains can feel a lot better after using ice for 10-15 minutes, with an hour break in between icing sessions. If you have bad circulation, then cold therapy probably isn’t for you. If you apply ice for too long or directly touching the skin- tissue or nerve damage becomes a possibility. 

Heat- heat is the best method for relaxing tight and sore muscles. Whereas ice restricts blood vessels, heat opens them, increasing blood flow to an affected area. This is perfect for most aches and pains, and it’s also great for repairing damaged tissue since increased blood flow stimulates healing. Stiffness and tension can usually be relieved with about 15-20 minutes of heat therapy. Do not feel the burn…when using heat therapy, you want to keep a nice, even warmth. Remember, if you have ANY swelling or bruising, heat isn’t the right call.

But can you use both? Absolutely- However, as I mentioned above, it is important to use ice during the first 48-72 hours immediately following an injury- after that you may alternate between ice and heat every few hours. The rule of thumb is 15 minutes on, 1 hour off when cycling between ice and heat.

Ice and Heat can be used together to manage headaches at home

Headaches- Some conditions such as headaches respond very well to both heat and ice on different areas of the head and neck. Heat and cold are no risk therapies that anyone can use for headache relief. Let’s talk about using heat first. Heating tight muscles can help relieve a tension type headache, if the small muscles in the back of the head get too tight, (which is a very common cause of headaches). You can start by applying a little heat to the base of the head and neck for 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, for those pulsing, nasty headaches, ice the temples to fight inflammation and relieve throbbing.

Long Term Solution- When it comes to injuries caused by physical activity-cold and heat are very beneficial, but they’re not long-term solutions. A healthy musculoskeletal system is critical to overall health and healing, affecting how the entire body functions. Regular adjustments of the spine help return the body to a normal state by reducing tension as well as pain by activating the body’s natural healing process. Choosing chiropractic as the first line of defense once injured decreases the likelihood surgery and further injury.

Call Yost Family Chiropractic today at 515-278-9678 to book a consultation to talk to our doctors or to schedule your new patient exam.

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Tired of dealing with headaches and neck pain?

When you’re in pain, it can take away from every single part of your life.

We know how hard it can be, and at Yost Family Chiropractic we’re here to help you. Let’s run through it together starting with why you’re in pain, what’s causing it, and what you can do.

What is causing my neck pain?

Have you been in a recent car accident? Do you work a desk job or study too much? Maybe you text a lot and you’re constantly looking down at your phone. Depending on the cause, neck pain can come in a variety of different forms and severities, from nerve impingement to whiplash or chronic postural problems leading to structural changes. If you’re reading this blog, chances are you know this kind of pain already, and it’s not just a pain in the neck. It affects the shoulders and can even cause headaches. The pain may be relative to one spot, or it can radiate to different parts of your upper body, including the arms. You may also experience occasional numbness, muscle weakness and decreased ROM.

Here are some common causes of neck pain and headaches

  • Poor Posture/Daily Habits
  • Injuries and Whiplash
  • Motor Vehicle or Work Place Accidents
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Degenerative Disc/Joint Disease

What can you do at home to help?

Here’s how you can start feeling better right now.

Stretches– Tuck your chin back over the notch above your sternum, so that your ear is line with the tip of your shoulder. You want to do as many of these as possible- my recommendation is aiming to do 10 every hour. Setting an alarm on your phone or watch to take posture breaks is very helpful. A great time to incorporate these are your daily routine- whenever you are in a car or even in the shower.

Perform these 10 times every hour and hold for 5 seconds.

Ice– For tension and muscle soreness, ice therapy is a great form of pain relief, and here’s why. Cold restricts blood flow and reduces inflammation as well as swelling. But keep in mind, too much cold can hurt you. Don’t put bags of ice or packs directly on the skin as that could risk tissue. Instead, cover it in a towel and set it on the area. Ice the neck area no more than 10-15 minutes at a time and take hour breaks in between ICE sessions.

Neck Orthotic– The use of a neck orthotic is used to correct poor posture and restore the curve of the cervical spine. We often refer to this as “braces for the spine”. The top of the orthotic is used as a fulcrum- by placing the tip of the triangle at the base of the neck, or as low as you can go. You then lean your head and neck over the top, as shown below. Consistency is key! It is important to recognizance that correcting the cervical curve is a process not an event.

Start with 30 seconds then add 15-30 seconds per day until you are doing 10-15 minutes every day.

Essential Oils– Many people find success using essential oils topically when they’ve got sore or strained muscles. There any MANY kinds of oils to choose from, it’s worth looking into for natural pain relief that works. Another helpful topical is BIO-FREEZE, which uses the active ingredient menthol to cool sore muscles on contact.

Proper Neck Pillow– The kind of pillow you use could either facilitate healing, or straining your neck. Look for one that’s made of firmer foam and materials that press back, effectively supporting the head. It’s also crucial that your pillow contours to your head, neck and shoulders, offering built-in cervical support.

It’s time to invest in a quality pillow.

When that is not enough- Fixing the ROOT problem

The tips listed above will help you manage your symptoms, and they’re good for temporary pain relief, but they won’t truly fix anything. In order to eliminate your symptoms for good, treatment needs to address the root cause of the problem. Constant stress can affect the cervical spine (neck) which causes misalignments known as subluxations. These misalignments can wreak havoc on your entire body, because when the vertebrae are not aligned, it can dampen your brain to body communication system. When a nerve had pressure on it for many years it becomes damaged and starts to cause problems and pain. They key to reducing joint pain long term, is to adjust the cervical spine where vertebrae may be out of alignment. A chiropractor uses the chiropractic adjustment to manipulate the spine back into optimal alignment, which takes the pressure off the nerves which then allows the nervous system to function at its best ability.

Chiropractic neck adjustments are a safe and effective way to treat neck pain

If you are interested in a chiropractic evaluation, call us at 515-278-9678 to schedule an appointment with one of our chiropractors.

5 FAQ’s about chiropractic

Why Should I Go to a Chiropractor?

It’s a common misconception that chiropractic only helps people with neck or back pain. Chiropractic is helpful for a wide variety of health problems. It helps improve nerve system function as a whole, which in turn, encourages the body to heal at it’s full potential.  Chiropractic is a conservative treatment that is effective and not only treating, but also preventing health issues.

Is Chiropractic Safe?

ABSOLUTELY! Chiropractic has an excellent safety record. It’s a conservative, all-natural approach to healthcare that avoids invasive procedures or addictive drugs.  Conservative care means to take a cautious, safe and moderate approach to treating a health issue. In fact, malpractice rates between chiropractors and other healthcare professionals are very different, our malpractice premiums are only a small fraction of the cost compared to those for medical doctors because what we do is so low risk. We treat ALL walks of life starting from pediatric to geriatric ages.  Our goal is to get you better and KEEP you healthy by preventing future health problems as a whole. After all, we are treating your whole nervous system to keep it running smoothly, not just your back.

What Causes that Popping Sound During an Adjustment?

We know that sometimes it can make people nervous at times however, the “popping, clicking or cracking” sound you hear during a chiropractic adjustment is nothing to be worried about. This sound is painless and completely harmless. It’s caused by natural gases in your body rushing in to fill the partial vacuum that’s created when your joints shift. It’s not an indicator of any problems. In fact, not all adjustments make a sound. A bone can shift back into position without creating any sound at all, with the same effects.

Can I Adjust Myself?

Please don’t! Your chiropractor has years of training, education and experience under their belt and is a pro at adjusting your spine safely, correctly and accurately. A chiropractic adjustment versus bending and twisting yourself certain ways to “crack your back” are very different things. Self manipulation can be counterproductive and sometimes dangerous, making an already unstable spine even worse. Your chiropractor does a thorough exam as well as x-rays to adjust you in a very specific way. Though it may not always feel different to you, we are using different parts of our hands to contact and isolate specific bones in your spine to make the proper corrections.

Are All Patients Adjusted the Same Way?

No. Every single person is different and has their own unique needs. At Yost Family Chiropractic our doctors evaluate and treat each person’s spine and symptoms in the way that suits that person best. Some people like the get hands on adjustments, while others prefer adjustments with a tool such as an activator or athrostim device. We develop an individual treatment plan that best addresses that specific patient’s concern.