When you have an acute injury or are recovering from surgery, it is often recommended that you apply ice to help control swelling, inflammation and pain to the affected area. Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation can all help control what occurs at the injured site. The body’s first response is to send a lot of blood and fluid to the injured area to clean it up and prepare the tissue for healing. It is normal to feel pain and stiffness in the acute phase of healing. Using an ice pack helps by causing vasoconstriction or a closing down of blood vessels to limit the amount of swelling that tends to limit motion at the injured site. Application of cold will also reduce pain. Some people try to use ice in a bag but ice cubes eventually melt and if you place just water in a bag in the freezer, you will end up with just a chunk of ice that is not able to contour around a body part easily. When using ice, always have a towel or pillowcase between your skin and the cold pack. Cold treatment is usually used for 10-15 minutes at time.
Here is a recipe for how to make a reusable homemade ice pack that will chill up more like an ice/slushy bag that will contour around your sore body part and can be placed back into your freezer to “reslush” up again for the next use!
Put ½ bottle of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol in a medium sized Ziploc baggie and add water until the bag is about 2/3 full. Seal the baggie, removing air and put a second Ziploc baggie over it facing the opposite direction. The rubbing alcohol prevents the water from freezing solid.
Hope this recipe is helpful! Optimal Physical Therapy and Sports Performance is here to help you with any physical limitation that makes you feel hindered. Give us a call if you would like to hear about how we might help you!