Why Ice and Anti-inflammatory Medication is NOT the Answer

Interesting post. I usually don’t ice things. If I recommend ice, it is for pain, not for tissue healing. Anecdotally, A bucket of water and ice seemed to help my ankle sprains recover faster than not icing.

The evidence though is in the favour of not icing…and no anti-inflams…which is why you often see me shrug my shoulders if you ask me if you should take them…I don’t 🙂

***Athletic Medicine HAS MOVED***

In July I posted a blog discussing the overuse of cryotherapy. The controversy surrounding the topic made it one of the most popular blogs I’ve written. What is surprising to me is that a controversy exists at all. Why, where, and when did this notion of anti-inflammation start? Ice, compression, elevation and NSAIDs are so commonplace that suggesting otherwise is laughable to most. Enter an Athletic Training Room or Physical Therapy Clinic nearly all clients are receiving some type of anti-inflammatory treatment (ice, compression, massage, NSAIDs, biophysical modalities, etc). I evaluated a client the other day and asked what are you doing currently – “Well, I am taking anti-inflammatories and icing.” Why do you want to get rid of inflammation and swelling? I ask this question for both chronic and acute injury!

The Stigma of Inflammation
Editor in Chief of The Physician and Sports Medicine Journal (Dr. Nick DiNubile) once…

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About Antony Lo
Antony Lo is an APA Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist based in Sydney. His website is www.MyPhysios.com.au. He specializes in the management, treatment and prevention of pain and dysfunction, particularly of the pelvis and ribcage. His sub-specialties include Crossfit and Exercise Performance Optimization, Ante-Natal and Post-Natal Care and difficult cases that have failed treatment elsewhere.

3 Responses to Why Ice and Anti-inflammatory Medication is NOT the Answer

  1. alan says:

    Great to see ice challenged in the Physio world. I think and work often within a Traditional Chinese Medicine framework which has always viewed ice (cold) as one of the 6 evils that bring harm to our bodies. Hard to argue with a medical system that pre-dates Christ. As is often the case lately, we are just returning to what is natural.


    • Antony Lo says:

      Thanks Alan.

      I think all systems merely try to describe what they observe and merely try to explain why something works. TCM is like that. I don’t actually believe in energy meridians etc etc but I respect that they are trying to describe relationships that are observed.

      The western approach of using ice to restrict blood flow to the area etc etc.

      In the end, all we have left is the science to investigate and try to determine what really happens.

      It would appear that ice isn’t helping…


  2. Caleb says:

    Too many people think that ice will just make it go away. Ice is something that is a temporary treatment to make sure that swelling does not occur or helps swelling go down. Do not just ice it as some people think, seek a professional for the best treatment for your injury.


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