When to use heat, or cold for pain and injuries can be very confusing!
HEAT increases circulation, bringing blood and nutrients to help the injury to heal.
COLD restricts blood flow. Which can be helpful when pain and swelling get out of control as in an acute injury or an increase in inflammation in an injured joint. Even though inflammation is the body’s reaction to injury, it can cause great discomfort, even preventing you from sleeping at night.
In general, heat is helpful for pain and injuries. Unless the injury is very acute/recent and there is a great deal of swelling or you can’t sleep because of pain or discomfort through the night.
Heat = Healing
Cold = Comfort
If the pain is preventing you from sleeping thru the night or with in the first few hours after an acute injury such as an ankle sprain.
Safety tips: Don't apply heat or cold directly to the skin; cover with a towel or other cloth buffer. Apply for 15 or 20 minutes at a time. Do not apply heat or cold when you are very tired or sedated by medication, since if you fall asleep you could injure the skin.