Posted 08/11/2021 in Category 1

Ice Packs for Sports Injuries

Ice Packs for Sports Injuries

According to Statista 19.3% of the U.S population actively plays sports. About 30 million children and teens participate in sports in the U.S. According to Hopkins Medicine, children and teens experience over 3.5 million sports injuries every year. 

Although sports improve an individual's overall health and wellbeing by strengthening their musculoskeletal system and increasing the blood flow to various organs, it poses the risk of injuries if not played with proper techniques. 

The most common sports injuries are sprains and strains followed by musculoskeletal fractures. Sports injuries affect your musculoskeletal system, including your bones, muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments. 

There are numerous ways to prevent sports injuries. These include wearing the right gear, warming up your body to increase blood flow, strengthening your muscles, using the proper technique, and taking breaks to avoid overuse. 

However, you can take over-the-counter (OTC) medications to relieve discomfort, inflammation, and pain when the injury occurs. Remember, OTC drugs and prescription medications, such as opioids, muscle relaxants, etc., can cause side effects. 

You can quickly relieve pain and discomfort in the affected area using ice packs. Today's article will discuss how ice packs work, the cold treatment options, and how to use ice therapy/packs to relieve inflammation and pain. Of course this article is not medical advice and if you have any worries or concerns you should contact a health professional. We have an excellent selection on our site! However, to learn more about ice packs and injuries then read on! 

Common Sports Injuries 

Sports injuries have different signs, symptoms, and complications. Depending on the intensity of the damage, you can apply homemade treatment options or take medications for instant relief. 

However, if the injury persists for more than two weeks, it is better to consult your health provider for advancement treatment. Here are some of the common types of sports injuries: 

Sprains 

Sprains result from overstretching or tearing your ligaments while playing sports. Ligaments are soft tissues that connect two or more bones in a joint. Sprain symptoms are inflammation and spasms in your muscles resulting from a collision or fall. It can also occur due to excessive force and overuse. 

Strains 

Strains are another common sports injury that results from overstretched and torn muscles or tendons. Remember, tendons are thick and fibrous cords of tissues that connect bones and muscles. Putting more load on your muscles or stretching them beyond their normal range of motion are the primary causes of sports-related strains. 

Inflamed Muscles 

Swelling or inflammation is your body's natural reaction to a sports injury. Inflammation usually occurs in weaker muscles, especially these structures that undergo intense training or overuse, leading to small micro-tears. 

Knee Injuries 

Sports, such as running, basketball, football, skiing, and baseball, have an increased risk of knee injuries. These injuries occur due to harsh movements. For example, sudden twists, stops, turns, or pressure on your knee joint can cause discomfort, inflammation, and pain in your knee. 

Achilles tendon Rupture 

The Achilles tendon is a power tendon located at the back of your ankle. The tendon rupture is pretty common during sports, leading to sudden discomfort and pain. Forceful jumping and sudden movements can overstretch your tendons and cause tears. 

Bone Fractures 

Although common causes of bone fractures include osteoporosis, overuse, sports-related accidents/falls, repetitive motions can put excess force on your hard tissues, causing stress-related fractures in your bony structures. 

Dislocations 

High-impact sports activities cause dislocations, especially when you put too much stress on your bones. A dislocation of the bone severely affects the joint when a bone gets out of its socket. Remember, this can cause weakness, inflammation, and pain. 

How to Give Sports Injuries the Cold Treatment? 

When you sprain your foot, ankle, knee, spine, or other body parts, inflammation occurs due to tissue stretching and tearing. Swelling interferes with the healing. Therefore, it is crucial to apply ice packs to the affected area to reduce swelling. 

That way, you can recover from the injury more quickly and effectively. The sooner you attend to inflammation after a sports injury, the better. The best approach is to apply cold packs directly to the affected area immediately. 

A study published on NCBI states that cold shrinks the blood vessels and reduces bleeding in the affected area, leading to decreased inflammation. Not only does cold helps prevent muscles from spasms, but it also relieves discomfort and pain. 

When you apply ice packs or cold bags, your skin will initially feel cold. However, you will relieve pain from the injury. For instance, when icing progresses, you feel a burning sensation and pain in the skin. However, you finally feel numbness in the injured body part. 

Stop applying the cold packs when your skin feels numb to avoid skin damage. Bear in mind that this is different from the numbness you felt earlier. Using too much cold for a long period can cause frostbite and increase the risk of nerve damage. Similarly, cold packs are not for everyone. 

The length of time you apply cold packs to the affected area depends on the injury's location. For example, if you have injured your elbow, knee, or ankle, make sure you don't apply cold packs for a long time. The reason is that these areas have little body fat, meaning they don't tolerate cold, unlike buttocks and thighs with more fat content. 

Cold Treatment Options 

Health professionals recommend applying cold packs at regular intervals throughout the day for best results. Time off is an excellent way to keep cooling effects from damaging your skin. Although ice packs remain the best cooling treatment for many athletes, there are several other options: 

Ice Bags

Ice bags are a traditional method people use to apply deep and penetrating cold. Fill a bag made of rubber, plastic, or moisture-proof fabric with ice. Apply the bag directly to the affected area. Ice bags' cooling effect lasts longer and is effective than other superficial methods, such as ice massage. Make sure you apply ice bags to the injured area for 10 to 30 minutes, depending on your body part and comfort. 

Gel Packs

Cold gel packs have a special gel you can freeze and re-freeze. Store the gel packs in the refrigerator until needed. Remember, the gel remains flexible and effective when frozen, allowing it to contour to the injury. The application time is no more than 10 minutes. 

Immersion

Immersion is another cold therapy method to relieve inflammation and pain after a sports injury. It involves placing your hand, elbow, or foot in icy water filled with ice cubes or crushed ice. 

Not only does immersion provide concentrated cold exposure to the affected body part, but it also relieves pain quickly. However, this technique can expose uninjured areas to the cold. So, make sure you act carefully. The application time is between 10 to 20 minutes. 

When to Avoid Cold Treatment for Sports Injuries? 

Cold therapy techniques and applications, such as ice packs, ice bags, and immersions, are not helpful for some people. For example, if you are sensitive to cold, you may not tolerate icing for a long time. 

On the other hand, if you have a high tolerance to cold, you can use cold therapy. Still, it is crucial to avoid applying it for more than the application time. Athletes with blood vessels complications near the skin must not apply ice packs for sports injuries. 

For instance, if you have Raynaud's phenomenon, a condition characterized by blood vessels constriction due to cold exposure in the fingers, toes, ears, and other body parts, you can experience complications. 

If you have diabetes or any other chronic condition that can reduce or diminish blood flow, make sure you consult your health provider before applying cold packs to your sports injuries. That way, you can reduce the risk of complications. 

Final Words 

Ice packs are the first line of treatment for sports injuries, reducing pain and inflammation by constricting blood vessels and circulation to the affecting area. Follow the tips and tricks given above to relieve discomfort and pain quickly. Consult your health provider if the pain persists for more than a week or two. Until Next Time!