Originally Posted by BruceD
One reply mentioned icing my hands to help make the pain go away.
Do I keep doing it, even after I have stopped playing?
I use heat now, because it feels good and seems to relax my hands a little, too.
I know ice helps after an injury and I have had shoulder pain that I use ice for after I play, but after 24 hours, I thought heat was the way to inprove circulation and speed up recovery. So, if I ice now, every 10 minutes per hour, how will that help me recover?
I'm gonna give you the long answer, because the short answer is not very intuitive, and won't make much sense.
Without out a physical exam, just going by what you are saying, the problem isn't located in your hands. It's not intuitive at all, but the tingling/numbness sensation you feel in your hands, indicates a nerve compression, irriration, or entrapment, somewhere, along the branch of nerves leading to your hand.
The most likely locations are where there is joint movement, so that's the areas with all the pesky little tie in muscles around the neck, shoulder, elbow or wrist. The are also some likely trouble spots where the nerves travel through the big muscles in the bicep, tricep and forearm.
To locate the trouble spots, and for tingling there is always a minimum of two, a physician will use a series of movement tests, palpation, x-rays, and or MRI, as well as just kind of hearing from you what's happening.
So the tingling is a nerve thing, not a muscle thing. Icing is a muscle thing to reduce swelling.
Since the problem isn't located in your hands, heat or ice in that location will nether help or harm you, its a complete non issue. You probably enjoy the feeling of warmth there, because well... people like the feeling of warmth. A warm bath feels a whole lot more comforting than a cold bath. However, if the problem is related to nerve irritation somewhere in the wrist, then you want to avoid heat anywhere near that area, as that will promote swelling, and create even less space for the nerve to travel in that location.
Heat therapy, alternating with cold, might be useful to you somewhere down the road, when you are in the physical therapy stage, and working on buliding strength. It promotes blood flow, and brings nutrients to the trouble spots. That a good thing but that's not where you are right now. You are in phase one, and inflammation is your enemy #1 right now. The only exception to this rule is that a soak in an epson salt solution will reduce swelling, and warm water works a little bit better than cold, to bring the key ingredient (magnesium) into the body.
Since you've not had a physicians diagnosis, which would indicate more clearly the trouble spots of nerve impingement, since he's just sent you home with anti-inflammatories, (typical) I would recco icing anywhere from your wrist to your neck where you are feeling pain. Keeping an ice bag in one spot for 10 minutes can actually cause minor frostbite, so its good to kind of move it around anyways. Ice up for as many hours as you can thru out the day (6-8 times would be super awesome) but for never longer than 10 minutes per hour.
I have a little more to add. But I'm out the door for a doubles match this morning. Didn't want to leave you hanging with questions unanswered. I'll keep checking in. Hang in there my brutha.