Articles and Links
The Physicians of the Hand center want to share this list of articles and links.
This list includes articles that address certain patient questions as well new and current issues that may arise in the context of patient care. Our feeling is that an informed and up to date physician and patient make for better treatment and care.
HEAT vs COLD for HAND AND ORTHOPEDIC ISSUES
HEAT AND COLD
Using heat or cold for fingers, hands and wrists can be very
helpful. Applying heat or cold is a common method for treating
injury, stiffness, swelling and pain. When
to apply heat or cold depends upon many things.
Heat and cold share common qualities. When heat is applied the molecules move faster
or speed up.
Cold, which is absence of heat, can slow molecules down
HEAT: WARM UP
ICE: COOL DOWN
Heat or warmth will help get things
moving. Heat speeds up the molecules in tissues and increases blood flow.
Heat is good for stiff joints and
muscles. Heat is good to get things moving again. Heat is also good to use
prior to an activity. We often see an athlete warming up before an activity.
A warm shower or bath can help sore
stiff joints especially in the early morning. A warm compress or heating pad can relieve
stiffness in muscles and joint. Avoid prolonged warm bathing in a
hot tub unless supervised. Too great a temperature increase can cause blood
pressure to fall and lead to fainting. Too much can cause burns to skin and tissues. Too much heat can cause swelling to or a burn.
After an activity, if there is pain,
swelling and irritation then cooling down can help.
Cold slows the molecule in
tissue down and reduces blood flow.
Ice after an activity can help to
relieve pain and irritation from activity. Ice can reduce swelling.
Too much COLD can slow down and
stiffen sore joints too much
The most common way to apply
cold is to use ice or something that has been made cold by placing it in the
freezer. Ice cubes and gel packs are
Applying ice or anything ice
cold to bare skin can cause injury of
left on too long. One should always wrap the source of cold in fabric or a
towel. If a cast bandage or splint is too
thick and the cold is not getting through then apply the cold close to or near the
area on exposed skin.
Apply ice for 15 minutes then allow
a 15-minute rest before re applying
Applying ice or anything ices
cold to bare skin too long can cause injury.
Any extreme pain or numbness
should cause one to stop icing
Athletes are often seen using
ice baths after sports. Too much exposure ice water can lead to frostbite or hypothermia
and injury. Never bath in an ice bath
RECENT INJURY. Within the first several days of a bruise,
fracture or injury (as long as circulation is normal) ICE can help with
analgesia and to reduce swelling.
CHRONIC INJURY AND TIGHTNESS
After an acute injury period warmth or heat can be used to
mobilize tight tissues and get blood flow to an area to allow the body to speed
A qualified therapist will use ultrasound to slowly heat
deeper tissues to aid with motio
Alternating heat and cold can be used under supervision
PARAFIN or WARM wax is to be used to apply heat only via
machines that are highly regulated and use a wax mixture that avoids skin burns
Never use heat or cold on a limb
or finger with impaired circulation or feeling.
Whether you are warming up or
cooling down, too much can be harmful.
Monitor time, skin condition and
if there are any questions always ask your medical provider.
Always test the hot or cold item first before
applying to the affected or injured areas.