SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – For a sprained ankle or sore back, what do you choose: (a) heat or ice, (b) a topical cream, or (c) prescription pain medication?

My top choice: heat or cold. Heat relaxes the nerves that fire pain signals to the brain. Cold numbs these nerves. And both heat and cold improve blood flow the area.

Some experts say to use ice off and on for 20 minutes at a time for the first 48 hours. Others recommend alternating heat and ice.

Heat rubs and topical creams work by distracting users from feeling the pain.

However, don’t use leftover prescription pain medication – that’s an invitation for abuse.

What if you have a cut or scrape and you want to clean it? Is hydrogen peroxide or isopropyl alcohol the better choice?

Neither –  the best way to clean a minor wound is with cool running water and mild soap.

Rinse for at least five minutes to remove dirt, debris and bacteria.

Wounds that are large, deep, or bleeding nonstop should be treated by a professional.

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