Which is better for relieving tendinitis pain — ice or heat?

Answers from Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.

If tendinitis is of recent onset, ice may be a better choice for reducing pain and inflammation. Ice acts as a numbing agent, and it also causes a narrowing of blood vessels, which helps reduce swelling. Heat promotes opening of the blood vessels, which can increase blood flow to an area of chronic injury to promote healing.

Tendons are bands of fibrous tissue that connect muscles to bones. Tendinitis is most often caused by repetitive motions that irritate the tendon over time. Improper technique with activities (such as tennis) or exercise (such as strength training) also can predispose a tendon to injury. Tendons also become less flexible with age, which can make them more prone to injury.

Oct. 11, 2011