As simple as it may seem heat or cold application can provide a surprising amount of pain relief for many types of pain.
- Cold packs help reduce inflammation and numb painful areas.
- Heat packs help increase circulation to a specific area of the body and can promote healing.
What most people don”t know is that it is not only easy but inexpensive to make your own heat and ice packs. This gives you the convenience of having one readily available wherever you may go.
Homemade Gel Ice Packs
If you don’t want to use your bag of frozen peas or corn every time your pain flares up, a gel ice pack can be a great way to get some fast relief. You can make a quart sized gel pack for under $3 and it stays colder longer than most vegetables.
What you’ll need
- 1 quart or 1 gallon plastic freezer bag ( it will depend on how big you want your ice pack)
- Rubbing alcohol
Fill the plastic freezer bag with 1 cup of rubbing alcohol and 2 cups of water. For a less dense gel, reduce the amount of water to 1 cup. You can also increase the water amount to make the gel thicker, but remember only 4 cups of liquid will fit into a 1 quart bag. It is best to use less than 3 cups of water with the 1 cup of rubbing alcohol. Try to get as much air out of the freezer bag before sealing it shut, then put it inside a second freezer bag- this way there is less chance of a leak. After placing in the freezer always remember to put a towel in between your skin and ice pack to avoid burning your skin.
Homemade Moist Heat Packs
When injuries are no longer in the acute stage and ice isn’t what your body needs, a heat pack can often bring much needed relief. Electric heating pads bring “dry heat”, which many people find to be less comforting than moist heat. You can make your moist heat pack complicated and extravagant or go for a more simplistic take.
What you’ll need
- Cloth container (sock, fabric, etc.)
- Filling (rice, flax seed, buckwheat, oatmeal, beans)
- Needle and Thread ( optional, but recommended)
- Flair ( ribbon, fragrant oils, optional)
The easiest method is to get some uncooked rice (4-6 cups or about 2 pounds) and fill a clean tube sock, then tightly tie the sock closed. This will warm with about 1-3 minutes in the microwave. For a quick use a tied sock will do but if you plan to use the heat pack more than a couple of time you should make sure the filling is secure buy using a needle and thread because the knot can come undone. Other filling materials are flax seed, buckwheat, beans or oatmeal. For a craftier project, you can purchase fabric and make whatever shape and size you want. You can also add fragrant oil to infuse aromatherapy into the filling material or add a tied ribbon to glam up your heat pack.
Here at Siskiyou Physical Therapy we recommend that heat and ice packs are applied for 15 minutes or less each use. The two can be alternated 15 minutes on then 15 minutes off for an hour or two as needed.
Jesse Elliott, DPT, Licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy with Siskiyou PT
We offer Same Day Appointments for those that are post surgical or medically urgent. We offer discounts or payment plans for those that have high insurance deductible health plans, no insurance or have a financial hardship.
Call now to get your life back, 800-958-2588 or visit SiskiyouPT.com
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