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What’s Better for a Wrist Sprain: Ice or Heat?

Without the correct treatment, a sprained wrist can take much longer to heal. It is essential to know what your sprain needs: ice or heat.

Sprained wrists need ice placed on the injury as soon as possible. This will immediately begin to bring the swelling down. This can be through a bag of ice or, better, an ice bandage wrapped around the arm from hand to elbow. The ice or ice wrap should feel comfortable on the sprain, and a wrap should never be so tight that blood circulation is cut.

Not only is heat treatment unsuitable for a newly sprained wrist, the injured person should also take steps to avoid exposing the injury to any heat such as by taking cooler showers. Heat can cause the sprain to swell up and result in more discomfort, so any exposure should be avoided until the swelling of the sprain has gone down.

After a few days have passed since the injury, heat treatment can help reduce the pain of sprained wrist. When the swelling has come down, place a warm, moist towel on the sprain and leave it on the wrist for around 30 minutes.

A wrist sprain is caused by a pulled or torn ligament. Sometimes the ligament is completely torn, resulting in a Stage 3 sprain. Ice should be applied as soon as possible after the injury occurs in order to alleviate pain and swelling caused by tissue damage. The first 48 hours after an injury are the most critical in terms of controlling inflammation. Apply ice to the injured joint two to three times a day for 15 to 20 minutes until there is a noticeable decrease in soreness, but do not apply ice directly to the skin to avoid possible tissue damage.

Heat can be useful for increasing circulation to an area to facilitate healing, but it should never be used on an acute injury that involves inflammation. Heat should only be used to treat chronic pain from tight muscles or sore joints. Heat can be applied before or after strenuous activity to loosen up tissues or prevent soreness.