Ice vs Heat for Treating Rotator Cuff Tendinitis/Tears
When dealing with pain from a rotator cuff tear it's hard to know what treatment will work best for you. You might be wondering if ice and heat will work for you. Or maybe even which will work better - ice OR heat.
Icing and heating are 2 of the most natural treatment options available. Compared to medications, surgery and other treatment methods - icing and heating have been around for centuries and have always been used for rotator cuff and shoulder injury healing as a means to soothe and heal.
We understand that it can get pretty confusing to figure out what conservative treatment method will work best with all of the treatment options available to you today. To get started, you should think about the benefits you'll get from using these therapies.
What's Better to Treat Your Torn Rotator Cuff:
Ice or Heat?
Ice and heat are the best treatment combination for you if:
- You're looking to heal your rotator cuff / shoulder bursitis / biceps tendonitis / impingement quickly and want to boost the natural power of pain relief and healing in your body. Perhaps you want to get rid of shoulder pain or bone spur pain and inflammation
- You don't want to repeatedly pay the cost (both from your wallet and time needed for long-term healing) of injections, medications, hospital visits. Perhaps you want to try and avoid surgery - an option you want to avoid if at all possible.
- You want to prevent your injury from worsening.
- You want to prevent any future re-injury, pain, tear or swelling in your shoulder.
- You want to control your own treatment and healing at home, on your own time.
- You're looking for a tried, tested, and true method of healing that thousands of rotator cuff injury sufferers have used successfully.
Combining cold and warmth is a simple yet effective way to get immediate pain relief and promote long-term healing. In your lifetime you've probably had your mom, family doctor, nurse, surgeon or physical therapist tell you to use ice right after you're injured and something warm from time to time once the swelling's gone down. It's a simple yet very effective way to relieve pain and promote healing in your shoulder.
A rotator cuff tear can happen to anyone, and right now there are thousands of doctors and physical therapists dealing with patients that require a solution to treat their shoulder injury fast and heal it (where possible).
If you want to be proactive about properly dealing with your bad shoulder, speak to your doctor about adding conservative temperature treatments to your recovery with AidMyRotatorCuff's system using a Cold Compress or Ice Pack and Deep Tissue Regeneration Therapy with a Shoulder TShellz Wrap.
When It Comes to Soft Tissue Injury Treatment, a T•Shellz Wrap is Superior to Heat; so instead of talking about heat, lets talk about the T•Shellz Wrap
Use a T•Shellz Wrap, NOT Heat
The idea of using heat was to try and get your body to circulate more blood into your injured tissue. The problem is that most heat doesn't get down below the sub-dermal skin layer - as such it is largely ineffective. This is why our
DTR Therapy wraps are superior to heat. Each
DTR Therapy Wrap emits a uniform wave of healing electromagnetic energy over the entire treatment area. This energy travels deep inside the soft tissue in your shoulder, stimulating the blood flow in and around the treatment area - just the same as a heat application was intended to do - only
T•Shellz Wrap does it better. The electromagnetic energy is CRUCIAL to the healing process.
Electromagnetic energy waves (EMR) are not Heat Waves. When they are emitted from the
T•Shellz Wrap they penetrate right through your skin and fat layers until they get to denser soft tissue such as your ligaments, muscles, and tendons. EMR waves are absorbed by this dense soft tissue and this absorption of energy results in increased bloodflow .... that's Enhanced Healing Power (EHP) -right at the location of the injury.
The use of ElectroMagnetic Energy is the only way that will provide the
DTR Therapy effect deep in the body where it is needed. The
TShellz Wrap is a flexible, therapeutic wrap that can significantly increase bloodflow at the source of your injury! The Deep Tissue Repair process is something you will find nowhere else.
Electromagnetic Energy => Increased Blood Flow => More Oxygen, More Nutrients and Less Toxins => Faster Healing
Using heat when the energy is only pushing into the top layers of the skin won't give you deep tissue healing. In this case, the blood is actually rushing AWAY from your shoulder to the surface of your skin - exactly the opposite of what we want.
If you try and heat deep tissue from the surface, you will find that little, if any, heat will reach there. The skin and fat layer below the skin are very efficient insultaors - they protect extreme temperatures from penetrating. There's even a condition for overuse of a skin-level heat source called toasted skin syndrome, hot water bottle rash, fire stains, laptop thigh, or granny's tartan (reference: 1).
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Note: If you have an Acute (recent, inflamed) Soft Tissue Injury, Do Not Use Heat.
Your doctor knows that the sooner cold is applied, the quicker you can reduce inflammation and achieve real pain relief. This will help reduce the chance of a much longer lasting chronic injury. Heat and inflammation are a bad mix and should not be used together. Heat is good at the spa - it will help your body relax, but when it comes to a swollen injury it is not a good idea.
When To Use Cold:
A Cold Compress or Ice Pack work best to relieve pain, swelling and inflammation for new injuries, re-injury and during immediate post surgery recovery. Cold therapy should also be used during the first 24 - 72 hours of treatment, combined with resting your injury.
- 24 to 72 hours after your initial injury or when you first notice pain and swelling to stop cellular damage, relieve pain, and decrease swelling.
- After exercise, workouts or activity of any kind to prevent re-injury.
- Before and after surgery during rehabilitation to control pre and post-surgery pain and swelling.
- Anytime you feel your shoulder has been over-extended, over-worked, twisted, strained or sprained causing pain and swelling.
- Anytime you have swelling, sharp throbbing pain or inflammation.
- Any other situation where you need to draw the pain and inflammation out of your shoulder and surrounding tissue.
When to use a Shoulder TShellz Wrap (HEAT):
- When the swelling is gone (usually after applying cold compression to the injury over 24 to 48 hr period).
- BEFORE getting out of bed in the morning. BEFORE going to bed at night.
- BEFORE exercise, workouts or activity of any kind to increase elasticity of the ligaments & tendons and decrease chance of re-injury.
- AFTER surgery (once the skin wound has healed over) to increase post-surgery healing rate and minimize scar tissue growth at the surgery location.
- Anytime BEFORE you feel you might undertake activity that will put significant strain on the injury area.
- Any other situation where you need to increase blood flow to your injury to relax your shoulder, relieve trigger point pain / spasms, prevent re-injury and enhance flexibility of your tissue.
Here Are A Couple Of Examples For When To Use Cold (Ice) Or Heat:
You have a Persistent Rotator Cuff Injury That Has Been Around for About 7 Months
You're having a "good day" (your injury is feeling fine) and decide to head out for some grocery shopping. You realize afterwards that was a bad idea because your shoulder is throbbing and even more painful than the day before.
Use COLD on your shoulder to stop further damage to the tearing in your rotator cuff and help ease the pain.
You've suffered from a rotator cuff tear a year ago, but haven't had felt any pain or twinges for the last 6 months.
Now you're in the kitchen making a cup of tea and reach in your cupboard to get a mug. You forgot about your injury but realize it's there when you raise your arm and feel pain in your shoulder... Reaching for that mug just reminded you about your injury with a sharp pain / twinge. You stop and ask someone else to retrieve the mug for you (you stopped the activity that will cause more tearing in your shoulder).
The pain was temporary and is now gone which means NO cold compression is needed. In this case heat (Deep Tissue Regeneration Therapy) should be used to encourage healing of your rotator cuff instead.
Use cold after any sort of activity causes you on-going pain.
When Should You Use A Shoulder T•Shellz Wrap (Deep Tissue Heat) To Treat Your Rotator Cuff?
DTR Therapy treatments work best to increase blood flow circulation and stimulate healing for older (chronic) injuries, re-injuries (after swelling has been reduced) and during long-term post surgery recovery.
DTR Therapy should not be used directly after an injury, as you must wait for swelling to drop.
DTR Therapy treatments should not be started for a least 2 weeks after surgery because inflammation levels will be very high as the healing process starts over again. Any use of DTR Therapy should also be combined with gradual movement to stretch out your shoulder and increase range of motion.
If you have a chronic shoulder injury that keeps getting re-injured you should use a Shoulder TShellz Wrap before activity to loosen up your tissue (making it more flexible). This treatment is shown to increase the elasticity (flexibility) of the soft tissue in and around the treatment area, making it more pliable for activity and less likely to re-injure.
Sometimes we feel pain while doing a certain activity - should you still use
DTR Therapy? Using a
TShellz Wrap in the morning before you start your day or before activity can help to boost blood-flow and reduce risk of further strain or injury. Use cold part-way through your day after you have been active so you can decrease pain and inflammation from the flare up.
Using a Shoulder T•Shellz Wrap is a good long-term plan because it will help stimulate healing and can also be used on a preventive basis to relax constricted soft tissue.
DTR Therapy enhances the local blood circulatory system, increasing the flow of nutrients your tissue needs to heal - oxygen, nutrients, anti-bodies and energy.
What Makes the Shoulder TShellz Wrap Different?
TShellz Wrap is a wholesome healer!
Instead of having the heat energy force itself into your body by heating up the skin first, the Shoulder
TShellz Wrap emits an electromagnetic energy (EMR) that penetrates deep into your tissue creating the heat right down in your injured tissue. This means that instead of trying to heat from the outside in, you're using another method to to get the energy straight inside; EMR energy passes right through the skin and is absorbed by deep dense tissue - exactly where it is needed.
What exactly has changed the way heat therapy works? With modern medical advancements, electromagnetic energy is used to generate deep tissue heat for healing with Deep Tissue Regeneration Therapy (DTR Therapy).
With regular use of the Shoulder
- Your pain will be reduced.
- Your damaged tissue will heal at an accelerated rate while reducing your risk of re-injury.
- Your shoulder will have a larger range of motion and increased extensibility of collagen tissue. (Chapter 9 of "Therapeutic Heat and Cold", 4th edition. (amazon.com link Ed. Justus F. Lehmann, M.D., Williams, and Wilkin)
Our high quality wraps are registered with the FDA as medical devices which meet high manufacturing standards.
How to Use Ice and Heat to Relieve & Treat Your Rotator Cuff
The main symptoms of rotator cuff tendinitis (or tear) are:
- pain and swelling in the front of your shoulder and side of your arm
- pain triggered by raising or lowering your arm
- a clicking sound when raising your arm
- pain that causes you to wake from sleep
- pain when reaching behind your back
- a loss of mobility and strength in the arm
Usually you wind up not being able to lift your arm up over your head or away from your body. Being unable to move your shoulder in these ways will majorly interefere with everyday tasks like getting dressed, driving, working or reaching for anything.
When it comes to using ice and heat for treating a torn rotator cuff, it's important to keep in mind that both ice AND heat are very effective ways to relieve pain and heal. Most people will think one is better over the other from their own experience or what a doctor / physical therapist has previously told them.
The only difference between using ice and heat is that 1 is better for you at a specific time in your healing cycle. Ice is used first, right when you get your injury, to decrease pain / swelling and inflammation. Once swelling has reduced, we then focus on heat based treatments to increase blood flow circulation in deep tissue which will stimulate the body's healing response.
Each temperature therapy has its own unique benefits for rotator cuff healing, and when used together they provide a powerful advantage to long-term healing. You may already know that ice or heat feels better on your shoulder, and this could influence your decision too.
The bottom line is that ice and heat are exceptional, natural, pain relievers and healers for your rotator cuff injury.
There are cases where some rotator cuff injuries will respond better to 1 temperature over the other. We want to help clear up the confusion so you know which is better (icy cold or gentle heat) and how to get the most from your treatment at home.
How Do You Use Ice / Cold as Pain Relief for Your Rotator Cuff Injury?
COLD (ice) is used to treat injuries or conditions that are red, hot, inflamed, swollen and suffering from tissue damage (a tear or recovering from surgery). Cold therapy is a natural / organic pain reliever that numbs pain right at the source of your injury. While doing this, the cold also stops cellular break-down and reduces the amount of scar tissue forming (this is very important after surgery).
When cold is applied to a rotator cuff injury, all of the soft tissue in the shoulder will squeeze on the veins to slow down your blood flow. This in turn clamps down on the amount of fluid leaking into your injured tissue, decreasing your swelling. This is why cold is used immediately to treat newer shoulder injuries or re-injuries. The cold slows down your body to stop the amount of damage happening to your tissue and decrease your swelling. This cold also has a nice side benefit of numbing the nerves in and around your rotator cuff thereby decreasing your pain.
In the medical world this is something called 'Vasoconstriction'.
Cold can Make Your Rotator Cuff Injury Worse - How?
Applying cold can restrict blood flow and stiffen / tighten soft tissue. Cold is NOT a good treatment method for your rotator cuff tear when the tissue is already tight and constricted, because the cold will just stiffen the tissue further. Instead use a therapy that will increase blood flow, like the Shoulder T•Shellz Wrap (Deep Tissue Therapy), to relieve any spasms in your rotator cuff and relax / elongate your tissue making it much more pliable.
When to Use a Cold Compress or Ice Pack to Treat Your Rotator Cuff
Cold compression works best to relieve pain, swelling and inflammation for new injuries, re-injury and during immediate post surgery recovery. Cold therapy should also be used during the first 24 - 72 hours of treatment, combined with resting your injury.
If you've been suffering for some time with a chronic rotator cuff injury you should only use cold after activity causes you more pain or triggers more inflammatory response symptoms (red, hot, inflamed, swollen).. This would be when your shoulder starts to hurt at the end of the day after you've been using your arm for normal, daily tasks the entire day. When used at this time cold compression becomes a natural / organic pain reliever, treating the site where you feel the pain.
Sometimes we feel pain while doing a certain activity - should you still use cold? Too much cold therapy can reduce your ability to heal correctly, because cold is a short term pain reliever not a deep tissue healer.
Cold Therapy slows nerve and cell function - reducing swelling that blocks blood vessels from doing their job.
This is important because once blood vessels are blocked or damaged, they can no longer carry oxygenated blood through the tissue and tissue cells begin to break-down. Without cold therapy, cellular break-down and tissue damage continue as cells don't get the oxygen they need to survive. By limiting the amount of damage done to your shoulder, you also limit the amount of healing that needs to occur. This is an important step to heal rotator cuff injuries faster and with less pain!
Questions about using Cold to Treat Your Rotator Cuff Pain?
Call one of our AidMyRotatorCuff Advisers at no cost or obligation to address any lingering questions you have about using cold for your rotator cuff injury.
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How Do You Use a T•Shellz Wrap (Heat) to Heal a Rotator Cuff?
HEAT (warmth) is used after you've reduced your swelling / inflammation and the sharp pain is less intense (you have more of a dull / nagging ache and soft tissue tightness in your shoulder). Warming up your tissue is a natural way to encourage healing of your deep tissue. Increasing the temperature of your deep tissue will result in increased blood flow circulation. It's the blood in your body that will bring oxygen, nutrients, antibodies and energy to your injured shoulder to help with healing.
When heat is applied to the rotator cuff, your veins will start to get bigger (expand) to allow more blood flow through to your damaged or torn soft tissue. This in turn relaxes your shoulder, making the tissue more flexible and elastic. This is why heat is used on older (chronic) injuries, to loosen tissue and bring in the blood flow needed for healing. Your body will begin to heal itself after its' injured. Increasing your blood flow with heat will actually speed up this natural process.
Doctors usually call this process 'Vasodilation'.
Heat can Make Inflammation, Swelling and Newer Injuries Worse - How?
When we injure ourselves, we start healing right away. The body will naturally raise the temperature at the site of the injury resulting in the inflammatory response (redness, heat sensation, inflammation and swelling). This 'fake fever' leaks blood flow to the area to cool it down and start the healing process.
Adding 'heat' to your shoulder when it's already inflamed and tender may make your body think there's a new threat to your tissue and increase the pain in order to get you to stop. For some people applying heat on inflamed / swollen tissue will cause the injury to swell-up even more (as much as 3 times larger than normal). You'll feel even more pain as the pressure builds in your shoulder.
Heat is NOT a good treatment method for inflamed rotator cuff injuries, new injuries (within the first 24 to 72 hours), right after surgery or right after a re-injury (over-use and/or sharp, throbbing pain). In these cases, heat should be applied later on in the healing cycle. In the meantime, use a Cold Compress or Ice Pack to decrease any inflammation induced pain.
When To Use Heat to Heal Your Rotator Cuff
A T•Shellz Wrap temperature treatment works best to increase blood flow circulation and stimulate healing for older (chronic) injuries, re-injury (after swelling has been reduced) and during long-term post surgery recovery. Warmer temperatures should be used approximately 3 to 5 days after you first have the injury. Heat should not be started for a least 2 weeks after surgery because inflammation levels will be very high as the healing process starts over again. Any use of heat should also be combined with gradual movement to stretch out your shoulder and increase range of motion.
If you have a chronic rotator cuff injury that keeps getting re-injured you should use heat before activity to loosen up your tissue (making it more flexible). When used at this time the warm temperatures naturally extend the elasticity (elastic-nature) of your rotator cuff, making it more movable / pliable for activity.
Sometimes we feel pain while doing a certain activity - should you still use heat? Using heat in the morning before you start your day or before activity can help to boost the healing process and reduce your risk of re-injury. Too much heat (especially when you suffer a set-back with swelling / inflammation) can make your inflammation worse. Cold compression with a Cold Compress should be used part-way through your day when you suffer from on-going pain and inflammation as a natural pain-reliever.
Keep using Deep Tissue Regeneration Therapy before activity and when you notice any stiffness in your shoulder to 'warm up' your tissue and stimulate healing.
Using heat is a good long-term plan because it will help to stimulate healing and can also be used on a preventive basis to relax constricted soft tissue. We use warm temperatures / heat to speed up the process of baking something in the oven or melting the snow outside, your injury is no different. Heat will speed up the natural healing rate in your shoulder by increasing your blood flow circulation. This in turn brings all the components your tissue needs to heal - oxygen, nutrients, anti-bodies and energy.
Here Are A Couple More Examples For When To Use Cold (Ice) Or Heat:
You had a tear in your rotator cuff 2 years ago but that injury has healed and you no longer feel pain everyday
You started taking a new Zumba dance/exercise class and notice your shoulder feels stiff the day after you exercise. There's no pain, inflammation or swelling in your shoulder, just stiffness / soreness around your shoulder where your rotator cuff tear was.
Use HEAT (via a T•Shellz Wrap) on your shoulder before your exercise classes to loosen up your shoulder. Heat can be used again the next day if you notice any residual stiffness.
If the stiffness remains, you should continue to use heat to make sure your old rotator cuff tear injury doesn't get worse.
You occasionally feel sharp pain in your shoulder that shoots down your arm
You're not sure if you have an injury, but the pain seems to come and go only when you stretch your arm a certain way or reach at a specific angle to grab something. When you feel the sharp pain, the pain will continue to radiate down your arm for a few minutes (or more) and afterwards your shoulder feels weak or unstable.
The pain is possibly a signal that you are re-injuring the rotator cuff and this means Cold is needed initially.
Use a Cold Compress or Ice Pack as a natural pain-reliever and for inflammation reduction. The cold compression will also decrease the amount of damage being done to your shoulder. If you have not seen a physician, then do so to determine the problem. Once pain and inflammation have reduced significantly, use the Shoulder T•Shellz Wrap to continue the healing process and help reduce the risk of continuous re-injury.
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If you have questions, call our office at 1-866-237-9608 (toll free continental US).
We offer a 60 day trial period on all our Wraps.
Questions about using Heat to Heal Your Rotator Cuff Tear?
Call one of our AidMyRotatorCuff Advisers at no cost or obligation to address any lingering questions you have about using heat to stimulate healing in your shoulder.
All it takes is one call - 1-866-237-9608
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Proven to Work!
It may seem hard to believe, but our Shoulder T•Shellz Wrap, ebooks and accessory products will assist you in recovering from your injury by reducing your swelling and inflammation induced pain and maximizing blood flow where it's needed most.
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