I recently asked my doctor when I should use ice versus heat, as sometimes I craved the heating pad and sometimes a bag of ice.
Turns out, what I was craving to ease the pain was naturally the right pain reliever. You should use ice to relieve swelling. When something is swelling, it seems like adding heat to it would make it swell even more, right? Heat should be used to relax muscles.
So if you are in a bad flare and you can feel the muscles tighening up, grab the heating pad or a hot water bottle and get it on that spot fast.