Doing routine tasks can be very difficult when you have shoulder pain. Most of the time, you might decide not to use the aching shoulder as much, which is a wrong decision as it will “freeze.” The best solution for shoulder pain is cold therapy, especially in its early stages of injury.
Cold therapy should be applied on the shoulders as soon as possible after being hurt or after you’ve had surgery performed. These first few hours after injury are the most crucial since your body’s response is inflammation. People who use cold therapy for injuries tend to heal quicker than those who wait for the body to heal naturally.
How to Apply Cold Therapy on Your Shoulders
Shoulder pain is mainly related to neck pain since they share tendons and muscles. When applying cold therapy on your shoulders, you should only ice it for seventy-two hours after the injury. If the swelling hasn’t reduced, then you can use cold therapy longer.
Applying ice directly on your skin can result in instant relief but can damage your skin. When using cold therapy, avoid using it directly on the skin. Use the treatment (wrap, machine, ice) between ten to twenty minutes, several times a day in the first 72 hours.
You should also check your skin constantly for sensation to ensure that you aren’t damaging your nerves or tissues. When applying cold therapy, you can also get advice from your doctor on other approaches to manage the pain.
Precautions To Take When Applying Cold Therapy On The Shoulder
- Apply cold therapy on your shoulder for ten to twenty minutes at a time. When doing this, make sure there a barrier between the cold and your skin. This could be cloth or towel.
- After three days of using cold therapy, you can now switch to heat therapy. You can exclusively use heat therapy or alternate between heat and cold therapy.
- Avoid any activities that could result in strain or pain on your shoulders, which may worsen your situation.
- Gently move your shoulder once in a while to prevent them from “freezing.”
- When using homemade ice packs, use them in a semi-solid state; this way, it can adjust to your body’s temperature.
- Don’t apply cold therapy on open wounds; this would cause them to worsen.
- Elevate your arm to prevent blood from rushing towards the affected area.
- Apply a bit of pressure in the area of injury to prevent further swelling and damage. Applying pressure also prevents you from further injuring yourself by stabilizing the region.
- You should stop using cold therapy if you lose feeling in the area you’re applying it.
- Check your skin under the wrap or ice pack frequently and keep it dry.
- Stop using the therapy if you have itchiness, too much pain, welts, burning sensation, increased swelling, and skin discoloration.
Methods Of Applying Cold Therapy On Your Shoulder
You can use different ways to apply cold therapy on your injured shoulders, depending on what you have and your preference.
An ice pack is one of the readily available cold therapy methods you can find at home. To make your ice pack, you can use two methods, mix water and rubbing alcohol and put it in the freezer when it’s double bagged. Option two is to mix water and salt and freeze it in a double bag. Both ways produce an excellent ice pack that you can use on your injury. Use a barrier like a towel to wrap around the ice pack before applying it.
However, although an ice pack may be a convenient option for applying cold therapy to your shoulder, it may not be the most efficient method of treatment as ice packs can be ridged and difficult to form to the shoulder area.
Cold packs are generally like ice packs, except you don’t have to wait for them to freeze since they come with a gel substance that isn’t fully frozen, making it easy to apply on any part of your body. Cold packs come in various sizes to suit your needs.
Cold Therapy Machine
A cold therapy machine is very beneficial because it has lasting effects. Even after you’re done with your cold therapy, you can feel its effects hours later. The device is motorized to circulate ice-cold water to a wrap that you will attach to your injured area.
The use of Cold therapy wraps with your cold therapy machine is much more efficient than cold packs and ice packs since they are designed to use specific parts of the body. You can find one for your knee, back, and shoulder. These wraps help you keep the icing on a particular part of the body without having to strain. When using a wrap, make sure it’s not too tight as this might completely prevent blood flow.
Importance of Cold Therapy
- Post-surgery recovery. Most doctors recommend cold therapy after you’ve got shoulder surgery or some other surgery because the treatment helps in reducing swelling in the operated area. Cold therapy helps patients regain normal function of the shoulder quicker than they usually would.
- Cold therapy soothes muscles and tissues. This type of therapy can effectively ease minor injuries. Cold therapy even helps in speeding up the healing time of wounds.
- It helps in pain relief. Cold therapy can help relieve skin conditions like dermatitis, but it also helps relieve headaches and migraines. It does this by numbing nerves hence reducing the symptoms.
- Cold therapy helps recharge muscles after a workout. This therapy helps muscles repair and heal so that you can get ready for the next session. Many athletes who spend hours on end in the gym use cold therapy to help them recover quickly.
Choosing a cold therapy method is dependent on the individual. It could take a bit of trial and error before you get the type of therapy that suits you best. If you find cold therapy isn’t the best for you, you can use a combination of heat and cold therapy, depending on what your doctor advises.