Heat or Cold for Acute Strains?

Reference:Garra G, et al Heat or cold packs for neck and back strain: a randomized controlled trial of efficacy. Acad Emerg Med. 2010 May;17(5):484-9.

This 2010 RCT was published in an Emergency Medicine Journal and compared the analgesic efficacy of heat and cold in relieving pain from back and neck strains.

Based on visits to the emerg, patients diagnosed with acute back or neck strains received ibuprofen and were then randomized to either 30 minutes of heating pad or cold pack applied to the strained area.

Result #1: There were no significant differences in pain and recovery in the two groups.

Result #2: Interestingly 81% of the patients in the heat group and 76% of the patients in the cold group would use the same therapy if injured in the future.

In a Nutshell: To determine which is better after an acute muscle injury, simply ask the patient “which do you prefer, ice or heat?” Let them decide, as to date we certainly don?t have an evidence-based answer.

The authors suggest that the pain benefits likely had little to do with ice or heat anyways but more to do with the NSAID!

Posted on: December 26, 2010

Categories: Modalities / Meds / Supplements

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