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Cold packs are excellent for pain relief in the first 48 hours after injury. There are several ways to use cold or ice packs.

My favourite is to simply make your own – it’s very easy and practically free!

How to make and use a cold pack

Take a bag of frozen peas or crushed ice (smash ice cubes with a rolling pin) and wrap in a tea towel or old tshirt.
Place it on the affected area for 10 minutes. You can the discard the ice pack or put it back in the freezer for next time.

Repeat applications every hour until you feel better.

Alternatively there are lots of reusable cold packs on the market. (examples: 1, 2, 3)

Some research suggests frozen peas are more effective than manufactured cold packs, but shop bought versions have the advantage of being cleaner and easier to use as they don’t melt everywhere or freeze into a hard lump.

I would not recommend cold sprays. These simply make your skin feel cold which temporarily blocks pain signals
but they don’t have any anti-inflammatory effect. They don’t actually reduce the temperature of the injured tissues.

I would also recommend using ice or something frozen rather than something which is just cold. A cold shower or a cloth dipped in cold water may help a little bit but it isn’t cold enough to have much effect.

If you do not see any improvement after 72 hours you should seek a professional opinion on your injury.  Do not use cold packs if you have problems with your blood pressure or circulation or if you suffer with diabetes.