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Hot pack or cold pack: which one to reach for when you're injured or in pain

By Andrew Lavender, Senior Lecturer, School of Science, Psychology and Sport, Federation University Australia
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When you injure yourself, you may reach for a hot or a cold pack. Which option is better depends on the nature of your pain, what caused it and how long you’ve had it.

Heat therapy, sometimes called thermotherapy, involves applying heat to an injury or painful area on the body. Hot water bottles or pads that can be heated in a microwave oven are commonly used. Cold therapy, or cryotherapy, can come in the form of water bottles or pads cooled in a fridge or freezer.

Placing something cold at the injury site causes the blood vessels, arteries and veins, to narrow. This reduces…


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