Applying ice to an injury is done to reduce pain and swelling and can also be used on conditions such as plantar fasciitis, heel pain, heel spurs and other foot injuries. Plantar fasciitis injuries occur when the plantar fascia tissue in the foot becomes tears or becomes strained. This is usually the result of increased stress on the tissue from prolonged periods of standing, excessive and strenuous exercise as well as lack of exercise for the feet (usually due to a sedentary lifestyle). By applying ice to places of pain and swelling on the feet, conditions such as plantar fasciitis heal at a quicker rate enabling the effected tissue to return to its healthy state.
A number of different methods can be used to apply ice to affected areas. The most conventional way of applying ice is to use a zip lock bag (or something similar), fill it with crushed ice or ice cubes from the freezer. Add a little water to allow the bag to contour around the shape of the foot and apply over the troubled area. A second method of applying ice can be done without actual ice but by using packets of frozen food. If available you may be able to use packets of frozen peas (or similar food packet) to apply to the foot to reduce swelling and inflammation. When using either of these methods it is important to be aware of overexposing the skin to the ice. Keeping the ice on the skin for an extended period may cause other complications such as frost bit or damage (necrosis or deadening) of the skin tissue. The best way of minimizing this risk is to wrap the ice bag or frozen food packet in a towel before applying to the skin and refrain from leaving it on the skin for an extended period of time.
Commercial ice packs, cups, foam, and gel balls are also available as an alternative to using homemade ice packs. These products are made with special foams and gels that can either be placed in the freezer to chill until ready to use or are activated by a chemical reaction just before use allowing them to cool rapidly. Although these commercial ice packs usually don’t require any form of insulation or protective layer, as in the case of the homemade ice packs that need to be wrapped in towels, they still should not be used for extended periods of time to prevent damaging the skin.
When applying an ice pack the most effective time for best results is within two hours of first feeling the pain or experiencing the injury. By applying the ice pack early one you will notice a reduction in swelling and inflammation with 48 hours. During treatment it is important to remember never leave the ice pack on for extended periods of time. For most people 15 to 20 minutes is sufficient with a limit of 45 minutes being the maximum. At any point during its application, if you begin to experience numbness or a feeling of “pins and needles” remove the ice pack immediately and allow the skin to warm up naturally.
The application of these types of ice packs is known to be beneficial in reducing swelling and inflammation and thus aiding recovery from minor injuries. Should you continue to experience problems however, there may be the possibility of more serious problem in which case proper assessment from a qualified health care provider is recommended.
Or alternatively you can use a reusable hot and cold pack, view here
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