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  • What’s The Difference Between Hot Gel Packs and Cold Packs?

Do you often feel confused about when to use a cold gel pack and when to use a hot gel pack? Since injuries can happen anytime, it’s crucial to be aware of what type of gel pack to use in what situation. This is because if you end up using the wrong treatment, the pain could become worse.
In this article, we’ll help you differentiate between cold and hot therapy, as well as when to use which one to alleviate pain.

But before we get into the details, let’s discuss some facts about both these treatment methods. Here are some major points to know about cold and hot treatment.

1. Cold treatment helps in reducing inflammation by dropping the blood flow. It must be applied within 48 hours of the injury. It is mostly used for acute pain.

2. Hot treatment increases blood flow to the injured area while relaxing muscles. It is often used in case of chronic pains.
3. Alternate hot and cold treatment is recommended to decrease any exercise-induced muscle pain.
4. Avoid using extremely hot gel packs and never apply ice directly onto your skin.

What is Cold Therapy?

Cold Therapy

Cold therapy is the use of ice gel packs for reducing pain in an injured area by reducing blood flow. This treatment slows down the rate of inflammation and redness on the skin. Meanwhile, it reduces the risk of tissue damage and swelling.

It also helps in numbing any sore tissues by acting as a local anaesthetic to slow down the pain messages that are transmitted to your brain cells. Cold therapy is also helpful in reducing swollen muscles or joints. However, this therapy is effective only within 48 hours after an injury.

Rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE) is the standard treatment for most sports injuries.

What is ice gel pack useful for?

The ice gel pack is useful for treating:

1. A recent injury
2. Osteoarthritis
3. Gout
4. Tendinitis
5.  Strains
6. A cold wrap or mask can also be used around the forehead to reduce migraine pain.

When to avoid cold therapy:

The cold packs are not suitable if-

1. A person is already cold or the injured area is already numb
2.There is any risk of cramping on the injured area
3.There is a blistered skin or an open wound
4.A nerve disorder affects your blood flow
5.An individual is hypersensitive to cold

6.An individual has some sort of sympathetic dysfunction, vascular disease or injury affecting blood flow.

What is Heat Therapy?

Heat Therapy

Heat therapy is the treatment of pains or injuries using hot gel packs. This treatment is applied on inflamed areas to promote blood flow, dilate blood vessels and relax tightened muscles.

With improved blood circulation, the build-up of lactic acid is eliminated after some exercise. Heat is most effective compared to cold packs at treating chronic muscle pain or sore joints due to arthritis.

What is a hot gel pack useful for?

Hot gel packs are useful for:

1.Providing comfort and relief to chronic pain
2.Alleviating pain due to osteoarthritis, sprains and strains
3.Chronic irritation, tendonitis and stiffness in tendons
4.Relieving spasms or pain associated with back or neck injury, including lower back pain.
5.Warming up tightened muscles or tissue before any activity

When avoid hot gel treatment?

Hot gel treatment should not be applied if:

1.The injured area is already numb
2.The skin is red, hot or inflamed
3.An individual has open wound or dermatitis
4.An individual is insensitive to heat because of peripheral neuropathy
5.Also, avoid the use of excessive heat on an injury


Now that you’re aware of when and when not to use cold and hot gel packs, you can figure out what type of treatment is required for a particular pain or injury. However, it’s best to consult a doctor first before using cold or hot gel packs, especially if an injured person has high BP or heart condition.