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Icing Down an Injury May Be Harmful

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
http://www.golfdigest.com/blogs/the-loop/2014/08/fitness-friday-think-twice-bef.html
Quote:
Applying ice to injured tissue causes blood vessels near the injury to constrict and shut off the blood flow that brings in the healing cells of inflammation," Mirkin recently wrote in a research paper. Because blood vessels do not open for many hours after ice is applied, decreased blood flow can cause tissue damage or permanent impairment, he wrote. Inflammation, pain and swelling are part of the body's natural process to treat soft- tissue injuries and limit use of the injured area. If there's no swelling or pain, what's stopping you from doing further damage?
post #2 of 11
I don't get it.. The quote above is in the beginning of the article.

Then he says in the end:

"Even Mirkin says ice is OK if used sparingly for short periods right after the injury occurs. "You could apply the ice for up to 10 minutes, remove it for 20 minutes, and repeat the 10-minute application once or twice," he wrote"

I'm confused now as to what is he calling for? Should people not ice or should they ice sparingly, and if icing doesn't help the recovery then why do so sparingly anyway?

I will mention that big time sports to this day use ice for the injured, and I will defer to them as they pay the big money to the trainer an doctors to take care of their athletes..

What I would like to see is some sort of case studies detailing out the differences in healing and other hints between ice use and lack of use!

Interesting article though!
post #3 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abu3baid View Post

I will mention that big time sports to this day use ice for the injured, and I will defer to them as they pay the big money to the trainer an doctors to take care of their athletes..

What I would like to see is some sort of case studies detailing out the differences in healing and other hints between ice use and lack of use!

Interesting article though!

 

 

Yet there were a lot of people who believed that eating fat makes you fat, yet it is more complicated than that. Basically, just because something is a standard doesn't make it correct.

 

I can understand the premise behind it. I know in another similar situation, were athletes take cold/ice baths to promote blood flow to the extremities to help speed up recovery. Yet that is a near full body immersion into a cold environment. They are talking like 10-15 minutes in an ice bath, sometimes it might just be cold water with no ice, they are talking about temperatures around 50-70 degrees. Not sitting ice on a localized area, which would be up to 30 degrees colder than a ice bath. 

 

I think long term icing could be detrimental. Having freezing temperatures exposed to a isolated location could promote the constricting of blood vessels. Bellow is some information on frostbite. 

 

Quote:
  • In conditions of prolonged cold exposure, the body sends signals to the blood vessels in the arms and legs telling them to constrict (narrow). By slowing blood flow to the skin, the body is able to send more blood to the vital organs, supplying them with critical nutrients, while also preventing a further decrease in internal body temperature by exposing less blood to the outside cold.
post #4 of 11

Is there an epidemic of people icing down injuries that have no inflammation or pain?

 

Because the key sentence in that quote was "If there's no swelling or pain, what's stopping you from doing further damage?"

 

Who ices those injuries? For the first 24 hours or so, a regiment of icing works well to reduce swelling and pain, then you apply light heat to promote blood flow/healing.

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by saevel25 View Post

I can understand the premise behind it. I know in another similar situation, were athletes take cold/ice baths to promote blood flow to the extremities to help speed up recovery. Yet that is a near full body immersion into a cold environment. They are talking like 10-15 minutes in an ice bath, sometimes it might just be cold water with no ice, they are talking about temperatures around 50-70 degrees. Not sitting ice on a localized area, which would be up to 30 degrees colder than a ice bath. 
Doesn't freezing cause your blood vessels to constrict, and your blood to stay concentrated around your core (basically to keep your vital organs functioning)? I thought an ice bath was just a total body application of ice to alleviate soreness?

If only there were a professional sports trainer here that could chime in...
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

Who ices those injuries? For the first 24 hours or so, a regiment of icing works well to reduce swelling and pain, then you apply light heat to promote blood flow/healing.
I think that's what the article is trying to say, that icing down the swelling could be a bad thing. From the article, the swelling is the body's natural reaction to injury, so icing it down inhibits that action.
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by billchao View Post

I think that's what the article is trying to say, that icing down the swelling could be a bad thing. From the article, the swelling is the body's natural reaction to injury, so icing it down inhibits that action.

 

That's my point: you ice to reduce swelling and pain. Swelling isn't necessarily and is probably even rarely "increased blood flow" per se. Swelling and pain simply help to stiffen the joint or area, and pain makes you stop using it, so you don't further injure it.

 

A day of reduced swelling and pain isn't going to do anything to slow down your body's ability to respond and repair. Then you add heat lightly to warm it and increase blood flow.

 

But you can't ignore the positive benefits of ice - reduction of swelling and pain, particularly the latter. Even if it slightly slows healing, reducing pain is often important.

 

P.S. You could take medication, but I and others prefer to let our bodies do as much naturally as possible. And one of my degrees is in medicinal chemistry… :)

post #7 of 11

Hmmm. So we let the body's natural reaction to insult go unchecked because otherwise we'll do some damage? Perhaps, therefore, people should leave well alone when someone has a galloping, systemic infection? Let their rising body temperature, literally, cook their brain and the body's defenses will obviously deal with the bug causing it? That must be the problem in West Africa just now - people are interfering with the body's natural reaction to an insult.

 

Seriously, there's enough evidence that icing is beneficial to plenty of injuries and all injuries involve an inflammatory reaction and, therefore, swelling of some magnitude. Sounds like a job for common sense - don't leave ice on for too long at any one time; after all, eukaryotic cells generally haven't evolved to function at ~0°C.

post #8 of 11
Every time I scroll past the title of this thread I smile. Standard response to any injury from any coach I ever knew was "D'ja ice it?"

"Coach I broke my arm in two places in practice."

"D'ja ice it?"
post #9 of 11

This is one of those articles where the author is vague enough to cause confusion.  If you sprain and ankle, RICE is the therapy for immediate relief.  Compression is used later to control the joint and keep the joint safe from reinjury.

 

But tell me (author), how do I use compression on arthritis or SI joints, or disk issues?  Ice is an excellent pain reliever.  Using NSAIDs helps, but can also be kidney toxic.  After a workout, using ice will keep inflammation from happening, reduce pain and help recovery. Just ask any physical therapist or doctor.  After a PT session, they usually put cold compress or ice on the area where they are treating.

 

Heat is effective for other parts of therapy as is compression.

post #10 of 11

I have spent quite a bit of time in my colleges training room for various injuries and can say that icing an injury makes a big difference in recovery time even just to improve muscle recovery times (that is why pitches ice their arms after they pitch and to keep the pain down).  I'm not sure where the writer of that blog got their info but swelling of an injury can actually do more harm than good to the healing process.  The general purpose of the swelling of an injury such as a sprained ankle is to reduce movement in the injured area and that, along with the pain associated with it keeps you off it and prevents you from making the injury worse.  If the swelling gets too severe or continues for too long then the fluids in the swollen area will actually restrict the blood flow and can destroy the blood vessels in the area causing the recovery time to lengthen.  That is why most medical professionals will tell you to ice the injury to reduce that swelling and then use heat to increase the proper blood flow to the area which will heal the injury.

 

just because something is a "natural" reaction of the body does not mean it is still relevant or can be bettered by modern medicine.  The human body adapted over thousands of years to survive living in caves and getting chased down by predators where there probably wouldn't be ice to help an injury and continuing to move on a minor injury could cause that small sprain to permanently cripple you which would mean almost certain death

post #11 of 11

    This makes sense, and also happens to fit with some traditional, non-Western medical practices, such as in Chinese medicine, where usually soft-tissue injuries are treated with herbs or manipulations to increase blood flow.

 

   Years ago I got tendonitis playing guitar.  The doctor just advised icing after playing.    It actually didn't do me any good and I had deterioration to the point I just stopped playing altogether for several years.

 

Swelling isn't really about immobilizing lymbs, it has to do with increased lymphatic activity taking away metabolic wastes from tissues that are healing.  The pain is mostly a side effect from that.   It's not some kind of magical signal to not use the limb (indeed, the natural response in animals is often to scratch or bite injuries).

 

  Now days on strains I use Tiger Balm or Blue Emu Oil and a heating pad immediately.     I would only use ice on things like bruises, not strains.  For better pain relief I'll use something that dulls the sensation of pain, like kava or CBD (cannabidiol, a derivative of cannabis).

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