Hot or Cold: Relieving Aches and Pains

Armen Hareyan's picture

Muscle Pain Relief

If sore muscles have you yearning for relief, what's the best strategy to soothe inflamed muscles, heat or cold?


Cold first, advises the August issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter. Later, heat can help. Wearable heat patches, available in retail and drugstores, allow you to apply heat and keep moving.

Cold first: To relieve pain associated with sprains and strains, it's usually best to first apply a cold compress for about 20 minutes at a time every four to six hours over the first few days. Cold reduces swelling and inflammation and relieves pain. For a cold compress, you can use a cold pack, a plastic bag filled with ice or a bag of frozen vegetables; wrap it in a dry cloth or towel to help prevent frostbite.

Then heat: Start using heat after pain and swelling have decreased, usually two to three days after the injury. Heat relaxes tightened and sore muscles and reduces pain. Heat is usually better than cold for chronic pain