What’s the difference between using ice versus heat to alleviate foot and ankle pain?

Should I use ice or heat to relief foot and ankle pain?
This is a very common question from patients: when to use ice versus heat therapy.  Cold therapy such as ice packs constrict blood vessels to reduce bleeding as well as reducing nerve responses which stimulate pain.  It also limits the inflammatory response which reduces swelling.  Icing is very effective in alleviating pain but it is important to ice until the area is numb.  Burning, tingling or aching may occur initially; however, to sustain optimal icing benefits, you should apply ice until the area is numb.  Heat packs allow muscles to relax and reduce stiffness in joints.  Heat allows blood vessels to open and increases exchange of nutrients while eliminating waste simultaneously.  Heat should be applied cautiously with use of an interface such as a towel instead of direct contact on the skin.  If you are using either modality for foot or ankle pain that does not appear to be resolving, call Advanced Podiatry at 813-875-0555.  Let the doctors at Advanced Podiatry evaluate why ice/heat therapy isn’t resolving the pain and find a treatment plan that will work for you!
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