Should I Ice my knee?

Ice my knee Huntington Beach, CA

Should I ice my knee after an injury? Or should I heat it?

This is a question we get a lot. When we have an injury, the oldest remedies are ice and heat. So which is better? My answer would be that you are asking the wrong question. The question shouldn’t be “Should I ice my knee?” but instead “When should I ice my knee?”. It isn’t “Should I heat my knee?” but instead, “When should I heat my knee?” So let’s dive in to this question.

ice my knee in The Calming Phase

In order to properly answer the question of ice versus heat after a knee injury (or any injury for that matter), we have to understand a little about the healing process. If you want a more detailed explanation of this, check out this article I wrote on the subject: How to recover from my (Insert body part) pain?

During the initial phase of healing, our goal should be to calm down the injured site. This means, preventing further damage, controlling swelling and reducing any muscle spasm results. At this point in an injury, the best modality for it is ice. Cold therapy will help reduce swelling and reduce the blood flow in the area. If you have an injury which has some kind of inflammatory response happening, you want to calm it down with ice. Now, some people will disagree with me, and say that we need to heat the area in order to increase blood flow. This is true, if the healing process has progressed to a certain point. However, if we have active inflammation, I believe it is clear that our first goal is to reduce swelling, and the best modality for that is ice. For a knee injury, that would be ice to the knee. Most of the time this will be the first day or two after an injury. After that point, what I would recommend with knee injuries is to do a contrast. This is where we apply heat and the ice.  In this way, we can increase the blood flow and maybe work on a little mobility, but then calm it down so we don’t re-start the inflammatory process with more swelling. 

Need help getting over some knee pain?

In my online course, DIY Keen Rehabilitation I guide you step by step through the 4 Phases of Rehabilitation with knee pain. I teach you what I do in the clinic with patients with knee pain. This course gives you specific exercises I teach my patients. You can start the course for free! No credit card required to start. You can do the whole calming phase for free and only pay if you want to move on to the other phases. So what are you waiting for? Get started on your recovery from knee pain. 

Need more hands on help? We are here to help you get back to doing what you love. Schedule an initial evaluation in our physical therapy clinic in Huntington Beach, CA.  We help people recover from knee pain all the time. 


Change Sports Physical Therapy
7172 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach, CA 92647
(714) 902-9349

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