Why Use Ice and Heat to Reduce Discomfort?Authored by Nyssa and Cryotherapist Dr. Susan Kwiecien
If you have ever given birth or experienced period pain, you’ve likely used an ice or heat pack to help take the edge off of your discomfort. At Nyssa, we believe in the power of healing heat and cooling comfort to help care for women who need extra relief at home. Which is why we created our double-patented FourthWear® postpartum recovery underwear and VieWear™ everyday underwear intended to help women experiencing a range of below-the-belt issues, such as period pain, endometriosis, fertility treatments and recovery from pelvic/abdominal surgery.
ICE, ICE BABY
Ice therapy, traditionally known as cryotherapy, is an easy, inexpensive, and surprisingly effective approach for pain relief. Applying ice can help ease pain by reducing tissue temperature, which provides an acute local analgesic effect. It is through this reduction in temperature that cold application results in vasoconstriction and reduced blood circulation which can reduce edema, and limit hemorrhage formation. For these reasons ice can be an extremely useful tool in your recovery and for everyday pain management and to accelerate your recovery.
FourthWear® + Ice Pack:
Ice is most effective in reducing swelling and inflammation when used as soon as possible after pain begins. We recommend having FourthWear® and an ice pack on hand immediately after delivery, so that you can start experiencing the benefits that ice can provide as soon as possible after giving birth. Ice, in our FourthWear®, can be applied on a regular basis for no longer than 30-minutes at a time as needed, but ideally several times a day throughout the first 72-hours of your recovery. Complying with a rigorous (but safe) icing schedule, specifically during the first few days after giving birth, is likely to help you resume activities faster while being in better control of your pain.
Several studies aiming to assess perineal pain in women treated with a cold gel pad after delivery have revealed a decrease in the severity of postpartum perineal pain. A recent study 8910 titled ‘The Effects of Cold Application to the Perineum on Pain Relief After Vaginal Birth’ by 11 Derya K. Senol, Ph.D, RN and Ergul Aslan, RN showed that cold gel pad applied twice within the first 4 hours after vaginal delivery was more effective in relieving perineal pain in both primiparous (first-time mothers) and multiparous (those who have previously given birth) women, than in those who did not receive any cold application. Their study also showed that two applications of cold gel pad resulted in better overall recovery in daily activities such as lying down, sitting and walking, infant care, breastfeeding, and urination.
Applying a cold ice pack for 20 to 30 minutes, several times a day as needed following delivery, is also recommended as a treatment for the swelling and discomfort occurring as a result of hemorrhoids.
VieWear™ + Ice Pack:
Ice packs are also a simple and useful tool for decreasing postoperative pain in patients undergoing major abdominal operations. Recently, patients undergoing abdominal surgery who were treated with ice packs over the first 24 hours after surgery experienced reduced postoperative pain at their incision, as well as reduced narcotic use. Wearing VieWear™ underwear with a gel ice pack may provide comfort during recovery from pelvic or abdominal surgery. Please consult with your doctor to discuss risks prior to applying cryotherapy over an incision.Ice application has very few risks. When using ice, in order to obtain the best results and stay safe, there are a couple of key guidelines to remember:
- Avoid applying ice directly to the skin. Doing so for a prolonged duration may cause frostbite – a type of skin injury commonly known as an "ice burn." Using a gel ice pack inserted into Nyssa’s FourthWear® postpartum recovery underwear or VieWear™ provides a barrier between your skin, holds the cooling pack exactly where you need the relief, and is a safer approach.
- Only apply ice or cold packs for a maximum of 15 to 30 minutes at a time. Applying ice for a longer duration may damage the skin.
- Ice applied more frequently but for shorter durations will reduce your tissue temperature to a greater degree than ice applied less frequently for a longer duration.
- Administering an ice pack as soon as is possible, as opposed to waiting for the discomfort to start, will result in better outcomes.
SOME LIKE IT HOT
FourthWear® + Heat Pack:
Afterbirth pains are similar to menstrual cramps, and occur the first few days following your baby's birth. They are normal, and may be stronger with each baby you have. They most commonly occur while breastfeeding. Warm heat packs and compresses can help with the pain. For pain from a cesarean section incision, a heating pad or warm compresses will ease the pain around your abdomen and incision (University of Rochester Medical Center).
VieWear™ + Heat Pack:
Primary dysmenorrhea, painful menstrual cramping in the absence of other pelvic pathology is the most common gynecologic condition in women. A systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that heat therapy can be used effectively to decrease menstrual pain in women with primary dysmenorrhea (aka period cramps!). The studies findings support the recommendation of local heat as a complementary treatment for period cramps.
The exact mechanisms by which heat might reduce endometriosis-related pain and cramping are unknown. But one of the most commonly experienced symptoms of endometriosis is pelvic pain and applying heat is a common way to relieve endometriosis related discomfort.
Other Pelvic or Abdominal Discomfort:
Heat has several potential pain-reducing properties such as opening up the blood vessels which increases circulation and could help with relaxing your muscles which in turn might result in stress relief. Heat application also has the ability to affect pain receptors to inhibit pain and more. For these reasons, when administered in a safe way, heat therapy can be effective in relieving other pelvic or abdominal discomfort.
Although heat therapy is often considered a home remedy, it is important to check with your healthcare provider before regularly using it for pain relief. Individuals with sensitive skin or who are prone to burning should not use heat therapy unless approved to do so by their provider.