To Ice Or NOT To Ice? That Is The Question!

To Ice Or NOT To Ice? That Is The Question!

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To Ice Or NOT To Ice? That Is The Question!

I was introduced to a new concept… NO ice for injuries (new and old) or post surgery! Wait, did I just hear this correct? This is a completely foreign concept to me as both an Athletic Trainer and a Physical Therapist.  I have always told patients to ice to help with pain management and limit swelling to the injured area.  People that support this idea of no ice, state that by icing we are stopping the body’s natural inflammation cycle, our body goes through this cycle for a reason, and if we interfere with it we are actually slowing down recover not speeding it up.

They also say that by icing the injured area you are increased lymph flow to that body part which increases swelling. And although it may temporary decrease pain you may get an increase in pain after you are done icing as swelling then increases to the area.  Instead of the old acronym RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) they tell you to skip Rest and Icing suggesting movement to get the muscles to contract which will help pump the lymph and swelling out of an area, compression, and elevation.

The idea of letting the body go through its natural inflammation cycle is not a foreign concept to me. We are aware that NSAIDS (anti-inflammatory drugs) can slow down healing and may doctors have stopped advising patients to take them for certain conditions. I have told people that many doctors won’t drain the fluid from a knee because it will just return, our body puts in there for a reason.  I also use the body’s natural inflammation cycle and restart it with cross-friction massage on tendons.  But I just can’t wrap my head around this whole idea of NO ice.

I admit I haven’t read the research yet to know if this  is valid or not and I am not ready to make up my mind on where I stand. But honestly, I probably won’t be telling people to stop icing any time soon.  As for forgetting the “R and I” in RICE I still use it but my “REST” is rest from the activity that causes the pain not total rest. Ice for pain relief, even if very temporary relief, is the biggest driving factor for my patients.

What do you think?  Ice or NO ice???????

Want to read more, here are 3 blogs that also reference their research to support the idea of NO icing (the first two are writing by the same person)…




Thanks for reading. Please leave me your questions or comments in the comment section below!

– Katie

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Katie Lazenby

Katie Lazenby

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