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Can icing help headach or thinking clearly?

Answered on August 12, 2013
Created August 10, 2013 at 1:58 AM

Icing injuries are known to reduce inflammation in soft tissue, to promote faster removal of damaged tissue and quicker delivery of new repairing cells. In case of headache after intensive problem solving with brain in ketone mode, does icing help? My first guess is that: Na K inequilibrium due to high intensive thinking in prefrontal cortex may cause some inflammation(?) and thus icing can help. My attempt for N=1 experiment, without measuring but with paying attention how I feel, seems positive. Perhaps the improvement may be from placebo effect. Question: Icing in brain is beneficial or hazardous? What are scientific bases for the above?

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2 Answers

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3491e51730101b18724dc57c86601173

(8395)

on August 12, 2013
at 02:54 AM

I think the cause of the headache matters. I get nasty sinus headaches, cold would hurt more but warmth sometimes helps.

Some headaches are caused by vasoconstriction and caffeine will help to dilate the blood vessels. It may clear your thinking as well.

Try cold with your next headache and let us know how it works.

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3fc95bca9e723edfbbb72b172798ab49

(1354)

on August 10, 2013
at 03:48 PM

Icing injuries are known to reduce inflammation in soft tissue, to promote faster removal of damaged tissue and quicker delivery of new repairing cells.

These two statements seem to directly contradict one another. Inflammation is not a catch-all evil. It does have its place in the proper context. When damage is apparent inflammation occurs in order to increase blood flow to the area. Icing helps to alleviate the pain and discomfort (i.e. the symptoms) but in doing so decreases the body's very intentional inflammatory response.

As for "intense thinking" causing this pain? I don't think so. The brain itself has no nerve endings. There could be a little demon in there stabbing at it and you'd never know. The pain of a headache is caused by damage or irritation to the surrounding tissues, such as the meninges, and simply "thinking really hard" shouldn't cause any undue physical stress on that tissue. However, there may be confounding factors that accompany hard thinking that can cause a headache (staring at books/papers/screens, poor lighting, etc.).

You mention a Na:K imbalance and that may cause a headache. Keep a spread sheet of Na:K intake referenced against headache occurrence. Could be interesting data.

Basically, things such as NSAIDs, analgesics and icing only really serve to alleviate the symptoms of pain and discomfort. They basically make life a little more bearable while your body gets on with the repair process.

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