Hot or cold applications can provide a surprising amount of pain relief for many types of pain. What is not commonly known is that cold packs help reduce inflammation and numb painful areas and heat packs help increase circulation to a specific area of the body and can promote healing.
You can easily make your own homemade ice pack and moist heat pack. This gives you the convenience of having one readily available wherever you go.
Homemade Ice Pack
If you don’t want to use your bag of frozen peas or corn every time your pain flare up, a gel ice pack can be a great way to get some fast relief. Not only is this convenient, but a gel ice pack can mold to the contours of your injured joint making the application of the cold more effective. You can make a gallon size gel pack for under $3, it is resuable and it stays colder longer than most vegetables.
What you’ll need
- 1 gallon plastic freezer bag (you should 2 ply the bags in case of leakage)
- Rubbing alcohol
Fill the plastic freezer bag with 4 cups of water to 2 cups of rubbing alcohol (2 to 1 ratio). For a less dense gel, reduce the amount of water. You can also increase the water amount to make the gel thicker. Try to get as much air out of the freezer gab before sealing it shut, then put it inside a second freezer bag-there is less chance of a leak, After placing in the freezer always remember to put a towel in between your skin and ice pack to avoid frostbite. It will take a day for the ice pack to set up and be ready for use.
Homemade Moist Heat Packs
When injuries are no longer in the acute stage, a heat pack can often bring much needed relief. Electric heating pads bring “dry heat”, which many people find to be less comforting than moist heat.
What you’ll need
- Cloth container (sock, fabric, etc.)
- Filling (rice, flax seed, buckwheat, oatmeal, beans)
- Needle and Thread (optional, but recommended)
- Flair (ribbon, fragrant oils, optional)
The easiest method is to get some uncooked rice (4-6 cups or about 2 pounds) and fill a clean tube sock, then tightly tie the sock closed. This will warm with about 1-3 minutes in the microwave. For a quick use a tied sock will do but if you plan to use the heat pack more than a couple of times you should make sure the filling is secure buy using a needle and thread because the knot can come undone. Other filling materials are flax, buckwheat, beans or oatmeal. You can also purchase fabric and make whatever shape and size you want. Adding fragrant oil to infuse aromatherapy into the filing material or add a tied ribbon to glam up your heat pack.
Here at Flex Physical Therapy we recommend that heat and ice packs are applied for no longer than 15 minutes.
If the ice and heat packs are not alleviating the pain you are having, you might want to come in for an evaluation with one of our therapists and try some of the many revolutionary approaches we have for pain relief. Call us at 1-800-930-8803.