Should you be using a hot or cold compress for your injuries? It really depends on the type of injury. Applying heat to an area helps to loosen muscles and relieve tension. It is also good for stiffness and muscle spasms. Common heat compresses include heating pads, hot patches, and body wrap warmers. A cold compress, on the other hand, is typically used to reduce inflammation and swelling. Types of cold compress include ice packs, cold cloths, cooling body wraps, even a cold bath can help. Alternating hot/cold treatments may be required in some cases to achieve the most effective relief. When it comes to pain management, you should always follow the advice from your physician.