The practice of applying ice to an injury to reduce inflammation has been used for decades. The thing is, there’s ZERO peer-reviewed scientific evidence to support this practice. However, recent studies have shown that ice may affect the healing process.
The question is, “Why do many healthcare providers use ice on an injury to help reduce inflammation?”
The idea behind this practice is that ice impedes blood circulation to the injured area and minimizes swelling. But is this right? We’ll learn more from this article.
There’s nothing terrible about inflammation
Inflammation is not harmful — that’s a fact. It is a regular aspect of human physiology, so is there any reason why it should be stopped? You see, whenever a tissue is injured, the body makes attempts to remove the damaging stimulus and trigger the healing process.
The healing process includes increasing the circulation of blood and the flow of lymph to and from the affected area. This enhances the movement of inflammatory cells and nutrients to the injured site. On the other hand, the lymphatic system flushes out the waste and fluid accumulated due to inflammation.
Let’s talk about inflammation
The human body uses two systems of circulation. The major one is the blood circulatory system which includes the heart, arteries, and veins.
The lymphatic system is the second one. It comprises small bags that channel fluid to the heart. One thing about the lymphatic system is that it doesn’t have a pumping mechanism.
What powers the movement of lymphatic fluid is the activity and exercise of the surrounding muscles. Muscle activity causes a squeezing effect that pushes the fluid towards the direction of the heart. If there’s no movement, the swelling will remain and not be evacuated from the injured area.
Does the application of ice to inflamed tissues work?
Well, ice slows down the flow of blood to the injured site. Of course, this will reduce the pain by numbing pain receptors, but the swelling may not readily be removed.