How Long To Ice An Injury (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Up to 10 minutes

The ice pack application should be done for around 10 minutes to an acute injury. Long ice application to an acute injury can cause tissue damage as it would obstruct the flow of blood. Frostbite can also happen due to the excess ice application to the injury. The application of ice can be done to the injury several times a day in regular intervals.

To heal the injury, the body goes through an inflammatory process. The inflammatory process would help in healing the injured tissues. The body is already capable of supplying the cells and blood to the part where the injury occurs.

How Long To Ice An Injury?

Ice Application How Long To Ice An Injury
Minimum time of application5 minutes
Maximum time of application 10 minutes

The ice application can prevent the supply of blood to a specific part. Once the blood supply is prevented to the injured area, it would reduce swelling. Ice application is a great process for preventing the issues of vasoconstriction. Injury can cause pain signals and this can be prevented by applying ice for a few minutes continuously.

The 10 minutes of ice application is considered as a standard time. CBAN method is a way to know when to remove the ice pack. Initially, when someone puts on the ice pack, the person would feel a cooling sensation. After a few minutes, a burning sensation would come when you would put the ice pack on the injured tissues.

The burning sensation would get substituted by an ache after a few minutes. Once the ache is gone then the skin will be numb due to ice on it. This is the time where the person can take off the ice cubes. If someone follows this method, then time is not a constraint anymore, but the numb feeling would be.

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The body has the healing capacity on its own, but icing can make it better. According to many professionals, the ice application should be done for a short period of time. Anybody with an acute injury can put the ice pack or cubes for around 5 to 10 minutes. They can remove it for a few minutes before putting it again.

This can help in blood circulation for a few minutes that the ice would have restricted.

Why To Ice An Injury For This Long?

Cryotherapy is an effective method to help the pain caused by injury. Icing an injury for a short time would help in reducing the swelling that may distend the tissues. Swelling is considered a positive sign for recovery in the initial stage, but not all the time. Nobody should put the ice on for more than 10 minutes as it may cause tissue necrosis.

Perniosis (inflammation of small blood vessels due to over icing) can happen with over icing to the injured part. Ice can reduce pain but sometimes it can cause compartment syndrome. Compartment syndrome is a condition associated with muscular pain.

The person can apply the ice for a few days after injury. It’s important to apply ice for around 5 to 10 minutes every hour. The person can do the same for 72 hours after the injury. The person can apply ice till the swelling and pain are completely gone. The first 72 hours are crucial for any injury. After that, the person can apply the ice, before going to bed or thrice a day.

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Preparing your own ice pack helps to prevent the ice cubes from becoming huge ice blocks. To prepare your own ice pack follow the below-mentioned method:
Take a plastic bag and put ice cubes in it.

Put a small cup of water with some rubbing alcohol in the bag.

Seal the bag properly to prevent leakage.

The rubbing alcohol will be effective to prevent the formation of big ice blocks.

Conclusion

The ice application would be a great way to prevent excessive swelling of injured tissues. It’s good to maintain a short time period for ice application, or else it may have repercussions. Check the injury before applying ice on it. Not all types of injury require ice application.

The person should remove the ice pack immediately if the injury appears to be red, or bright pink. People with cardiovascular problems should not apply ice on the neck.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc1318915/
  2. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/262/5139/1525.abstract

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