In many cases, temporary pain, and even additional injury, can be minimized and even avoided by a simple application of ice. Ice, applied in a timely manner and in an appropriate way, can reduce inflammation. Inflammation left unchecked can allow the source of the pain to continue doing damage to muscles, ligaments, tendons, and other structures.
Ice causes the veins in the affected tissue area to constrict. This reduces the flow of blood while acting as kind of anesthetic to numb the pain. But when the ice is removed (and this is key), the veins compensate by opening large, allowing a large volume of blood to rush to the affected area. The blood brings with it important chemicals that aid in the healing process.
Ice therapy is not recommended as a form of treatment for any kinds of rheumatoid arthritis, Raynaud's Syndrome (a circulatory disorder of blood vessels of the extremities), colds or allergic conditions, paralysis, or areas of impaired sensation.