Make Your Own Ice or Hot Pack

Make your own hot and cold ice packs easily and inexpensively.  Moist ice and heat penetrate much deeper in the tissues for a superior treatment like you see in the clinic. They will stay flexible to contour well to body parts too! Take care if placing hot or cold pack over body areas with poor sensation.  Check the pack before placing over the skin, and check the skin under the pack frequently for adverse reactions.

To make a hot pack: Loosely fill a small pillowcase with uncooked (raw, not instant or precooked) rice.  Tie the end so the rice cannot escape. Place in microwave for 2 minutes.  Check to ensure rice is not too hot when placing over skin.

To make an ice pack:  In a large or extra large ziplock bag put 1 part alcohol to 3 parts water.  Seal well and place in freezer. Take out of freezer when frozen.  For moist ice, wring out a large, wet and thin dishcloth and get in a comfortable position. Cover body part with wet dishcloth.  Place ice pack over cloth (don’t let it touch the skin) and leave on for 10-15 min. Check skin to be sure it does not get irritated by this (most do fine),  If so, use a dry cloth.

Helpful tips:

  • If it is a new injury (less than 48 hours) always start with cold. Ask your clinician before using heat.  It could make things worse if used too early.
  • Arthritis usually responds well to moist heat and gentle movement.
  • Back pain depends often on the individual and if it is a new flare up.  Chronic pain may work well with alternating both.  New flare ups should always start with ice.
  • If the area you are treating cannot get wet, use a plastic bag or plastic wrap over the area first.



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