Treating Injury and Pain: Ice or Heat?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 5, 2013

Often when someone gets injured or feels pain, they wonder whether to treat it with cold or heat.

Today’s medical information comes from Elizabeth Matzkin, MD, Surgical Director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and recently appointed Team Physician for Stonehill College Athletics, and Kaitlyn Whitlock, PA-C, physician assistant in the Women’s Sports Medicine Program.

Often when someone gets injured or feels pain, they wonder whether to treat it with cold or heat. Below are a few simple guidelines to help you determine which approach to take.

What should you do if you get injured from a fall or collide with something/someone?

The answer is ICE. Injuries that occur after a twist, fall, or collision may produce localized swelling and bleeding. Treating the affected area(s) immediately with ice will work as a vasoconstrictor (narrowing blood vessels), limiting the amount of bleeding and decreasing inflammation. Decreasing inflammation also will decrease pain. Heat, on the other hand will expand the blood vessels, causing more bleeding and pain.

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Mindfulness Meditation Helps Fibromyalgia Patients

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital March 20, 2013

 

Research indicates that meditation may be helpful for people suffering from fibromyalgia (chronic pain syndrome).

Mindfulness meditation is a state of awareness in which one remains non-judgmental and non-reactive towards one’s own thoughts and emotions from moment to moment. Research indicates it may lead to changes in the brain that provide health benefits, particularly for people suffering from fibromyalgia (chronic pain syndrome).  These patients live with musculoskeletal pain and fatigue on a daily basis.  As a result, they often avoid pain-related threats and dwell on thoughts of pain, making it harder to cope with their illness.

In a study of female fibromyalgia patients who practiced mindfulness meditation, Dr. David Vago, a cognitive neuroscientist in the Department of Psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), found that after eight weeks of mindfulness meditation training, patients were less likely to avoid pain-related words and were less distracted by such words when performing attention-demanding tasks.  In other words, they were more likely to engage with their pain and had fewer tendencies to dwell on such thoughts after completion of the study.  While fibromyalgia patients who meditated still sensed their pain, they were able to manage their emotional responses more effectively.

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