Ice causes the veins in the affected tissue area to constrict. This reduces the flow of blood while acting as kind of anesthetic to numb the pain. But when the ice is removed (and this is key), the veins compensate by expanding, which then allows a large volume of blood to rush to the affected area. The blood brings with it important chemicals that aid in the healing process. Back and neck injuries frequently involve muscle sprains and strained ligaments, which can spasm and become inflamed. Ice massage, or cryotherapy, is effectively used to treat many kinds of injuries, including those associated with back or neck pain. Ice massage can provide a number of benefits, including:
• Assisting the body in minimizing tissue damage
• Mitigating muscle spasms
• Reducing or eliminating pain by numbing sore soft tissues
Ice therapy is not recommended as a form of treatment for any kinds of rheumatoid arthritis, Raynaud's Syndrome (a circulatory disorder of blood vessels of the extremities), colds or allergic conditions, paralysis, or areas of impaired sensation.
While ice therapy is used to reduce swelling, heat therapy is used to relax the muscles and increase circulation. Both kinds of therapy help reduce pain.