If you are in musculoskeletal pain, the first thing is that you should be applying something, either heat or cold, to the area. The reasons why are complex, but to make it very simple here is the rule of thumb:

If the area is swollen, hot to touch, or red (i.e the signs of inflammation) then apply cold NOT heat. For example you have tripped and torn a ligament in your knee.

Generally acute injuries requiring immediate medical attention need cold therapy. See various other websites for the “RICE” ( Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) procedure for the management of acute injuries.

If there is no swelling, heat or redness i.e. the area is not actively inflammed then apply heat.

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