“Choose what feels better for you,” Dr. Han said. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen, and physical therapy are the most effective treatments, she added.
Corey Kunzer, a supervisor of physical therapists at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said he typically recommended ice at the initial onset of an injury to help with the pain, and that both ice and heat can be helpful. He tends to recommend heat in the morning, when muscles may be stiffer, and ice in the evening.
Ice is the “safest pain medicine available today,” Dr. Mirkin said. But it also reduces inflammation, which is needed for healing, he added.
Mr. Kunzer said, “You want some of that swelling and inflammation because that is what some of the healing process happens with,” he said. “At the same time, you don’t want too much because it can be painful.”
The argument in favor of movement over rest.
Over his nearly two decades of work in physical therapy, Mr. Kunzer said that recommendations have shifted away from immobilization and toward more early movement. “You want to walk that tightrope, that fine line between getting that motion, but also still protecting it,” he said of the injured muscle.