Pain Relief with sports cream or an ice pack?

All of us over do it at one time or another. Weekend warrior in the yard or in the game. Training for a marathon or triathlon. Or just slept the wrong way and have a stiff neck. You are in pain and you want joint pain relief. Reluctant to pop another pill, you want natural pain relief. Your choice is between an over-the-counter joint cream or an ice pack. Which is more effective?

How sports creams work

The cool feelings from topical pain relievers, like IcyHot or BioFreeze, comes from the interaction of the menthol and the skin. Muscle cream is part of a class of treatment called counterirritants, which work by tricking the body into feeling sensations other than pain. Once applied to the skin, the product creates a series of chemical reactions that help temporarily relieve any pain in the area.

In a recent New York Times article, Ed Ryan, former director of sports medicine for the United States Olympic Committee commented that, “From a physiological standpoint, there’s very little benefit that occurs in the tissue where you’re applying a cream.” He went on to say that creams, “Don’t cause a change to occur that would result in any pain decrease or any physiological change that would hasten healing.”

The bottom line, although these creams may help to temporarily mask the pain sensations, topical creams and gels do not help the body to reduce inflammation or muscle spasms.

How an ice pack works


According to the Sports Injury Clinic applying a cold pack to an injury or inflamed muscle offers several benefits and effects, namely to reduce any internal bleeding and swelling. Swelling is caused by fluids concentrating around the area that is inflamed (damaged tissue) due to direct trauma. The cold pack helps to control the rate of inflammation. Top of most peoples mind is pain relief. Applying cold will numb the area, providing the necessary pain relief. As the cold continues to penetrate, the cold therapy acts to reduce muscle spasms and decrease the metabolic rate, reducing the oxygen requirements of the injured cells. These physiological changes may help to accelerate the healing process.

While icing is a great start, combining a cold pack with a compression wrap like FrozenPeaz provides improved skin contact and enables to the cooling benefits to penetrate deeper into the muscle tissue. The injured area reaches its lowest temperature faster and the tissue maintains its cool even after treatment ends.

So which is best?

While a muscle cream might help mask the pain if your are unable to ice, applying cold therapy with compression results in physiological effects that help the body not only with pain pain relief but also a recover faster.

Rotator Cuff or Shoulder Pain – Apply Ice or Heat

Your shoulders are the most movable joints in your body. It is also one of the most unstable, making it prone to injury. Common shoulder injuries include: sprains, strains, dislocations, separations, tendinitis, bursitis, torn rotator cuffs, frozen shoulder, fractures and arthritis.

The good news… Most shoulder injuries can be effectively treated at home with the RICE protocol.

FrozenPeaz® Large Joint Wrap provides front and back HOT or COLD therapy for shoulder injuries. Here’s how to use the Large Joint Wrap to treat a sore shoulder.

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What Is RICE Therapy?


This 4-letter acryonym is an easy way to remember the most important steps in treating an acute injury like a sprain, strain, muscle pull, or tear. Acting quickly and applying cold therapy within the first 24-48 hours can prevent complications and help to reduce overall swelling and inflammation. Most importantly, following these four guidelines will help you feel better and recover faster. Let’s face it, that is the most important thing of all!


The “R” in RICE therapy stands for Rest – take a break from normal activities. This is the easiest of the 4 first aid measures but is often the hardest to implement. The mantra “No pain, no gain,” doesn’t apply to an injury. Unlike pushing through an extra rep or kicking out another lap, working through the pain of an injury may cause more damage and may lengthen the overall time to recover.


Apply a cold pack as soon as possible after the injury. Cold therapy has two benefits: it reduces swelling and relieves pain. Apply cold therapy, like FrozenPeaz® to the injured area for 20 minutes at a time. Remove the cold pack for at least 30 minutes to allow the skin to rewarm. The best part is FrozenPeaz are just as flexible as a real bag of peas and FrozenPeaz are reusable.

Continue using FrozenPeaz® until the swelling has gone down, which typically takes a few days.



Snappy says: Do not apply FrozenPeaz® to the affected area for more than 20 minutes at a time!! The injury won’t heal any faster, and you can cause damage to the surrounding tissue!


The “C” in RICE therapy stands for compression. Use compression when elevating a sprain or strain during early treatment. To apply compression, take your PeazPod™ with frozen PeazPaks® inside, wrap the area overlapping the ends and secure with the velcro straps. The PeazPod should be snug, but not so tight it cuts off circulation. If your fingers or toes begin to tingle or throb, or if it just feels too tight, remove the PeazPod and re-wrap! If you don’t have a PeazPod, you can also use a towel or other compression device.


Keep the affected area higher than your heart if possible. This is another trick to help reduce swelling and inflammation. Try placing a couple of pillows under the injured arm or leg while you are ? ahem ? Resting.

Remember, Rest – Ice (FrozenPeaz®) – Compression – Elevation are the keys to treating an injury.


After following the R-I-C-E regimen above for 3-5 days, you should be well on your way to recovery.

Alternating Hot and Cold Therapy

Once the swelling subsides, you may want to try alternating hot and cold therapy to the injured area to increase blood flow. This will improve circulation, which aids in the healing process and improves flexibility. Best of all, unlike a bag of garden-variety peas, you can use your FrozenPeaz® for heat therapy!


Unless directed otherwise by your doctor, start to gradually use the injured muscle or extremity 3-5 days after the initial injury. It is best to start slowly to avoid reinjuring the area.

Before exercise: Apply FrozenPeaz® as a heat pack before exercise to warm up the injured area.

After exercise: Use FrozenPeaz® as a cold pack immediately after exercise to help reduce blood flow and inflammation.

From cold immediately following the injury to heat as you move through recovery, FrozenPeaz® will help you relieve pain, reduce swelling, and recover faster!

Try FrozenPeaz® today!

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical treatment or consultation. Always consult with your physician in the event of a serious injury.