PainScience.com Sensible advice for aches, pains & injuries
 
 
bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Malanga 2015.

Heat & cold need much more study, but heat shows promise

updated
Malanga GA, Yan N, Stark J. Mechanisms and efficacy of heat and cold therapies for musculoskeletal injury. Postgrad Med. 2015 Jan;127(1):57–65. PubMed #25526231.
Tags: ice heat, injury, DOMS, rehab, pain problems, self-treatment, treatment, exercise, inflammation, muscle

PainSci summary of Malanga 2015?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★☆☆?3-star ratings are for typical studies with no more (or less) than the usual common problems. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

Although it’s 2015, “most recommendations for the use of heat and cold therapy are based on empirical experience,” not evidence, because the only evidence we have is still “limited.” Malinga, Yang, and Stark review the alleged benefits of heat and cold: pain relief for both, of course, plus ice reduces “blood flow, edema, inflammation, muscle spasm, and metabolic demand,” while heating increases “blood flow, metabolism, and elasticity of connective tissues.” Even these aren’t well-tested, and there are other possibilities that haven’t been tested at all.

Based on a handful of relevant trials, they concluded that “heat-wrap therapy provides short-term reductions in pain and disability in patients with acute low back pain and provides significantly greater pain relief of DOMS than does cold therapy.”

But the main take-home message from this paper is just “much more study needed.”

original abstractAbstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

Nonpharmacological treatment strategies for acute musculoskeletal injury revolve around pain reduction and promotion of healing in order to facilitate a return to normal function and activity. Heat and cold therapy modalities are often used to facilitate this outcome despite prevalent confusion about which modality (heat vs cold) to use and when to use it. Most recommendations for the use of heat and cold therapy are based on empirical experience, with limited evidence to support the efficacy of specific modalities. This literature review provides information for practitioners on the use of heat and cold therapies based on the mechanisms of action, physiological effects, and the medical evidence to support their clinical use. The physiological effects of cold therapy include reductions in pain, blood flow, edema, inflammation, muscle spasm, and metabolic demand. There is limited evidence from randomized clinical trials (RCTs) supporting the use of cold therapy following acute musculoskeletal injury and delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). The physiological effects of heat therapy include pain relief and increases in blood flow, metabolism, and elasticity of connective tissues. There is limited overall evidence to support the use of topical heat in general; however, RCTs have shown that heat-wrap therapy provides short-term reductions in pain and disability in patients with acute low back pain and provides significantly greater pain relief of DOMS than does cold therapy. There remains an ongoing need for more sufficiently powered high-quality RCTs on the effects of cold and heat therapy on recovery from acute musculoskeletal injury and DOMS.

related content

One article on PainScience.com cites Malanga 2015 as a source:


This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights: