Many of you have come into the office with an acute injury and inevitably asked should I use ice? If you have asked this question, this quick tip will not surprise you as you already know the answer.
Recent research has shown that icing an injury based on the usual clinically recommended model can actually delay healing. Immediately after tissue damage, cells send out a chemical distress signal that is answered by several types of white blood cells, which arrive on the scene and trigger inflammation as they go about their work attacking pathogens and cleaning up and repairing the damaged cells.
On a cellular level, macrophages are typical of the inflammatory cells that enter the injured tissue. These consist of pro-inflammatory macrophages that phagocyte (or “eat/engulf”) damaged tissue thus causing inflammation, and anti-inflammatory macrophages which suppress the inflammatory reaction and promote repair. Research has shown that icing delays the arrival of the pro-inflammatory macrophages at the site of injury, thus delaying recovery time.
Icing for pain is ok, as it will numb the area and is the safest “pain medication” we have. But keep in mind that inflammation is not necessarily a bad thing. Keep moving within your tolerance without increasing your pain to help with your recovery process.