Many chiropractors perform what is known as ancillary procedures, which can be in the form of hot packs, cold packs, electrotherapy or ultrasound. Every chiropractor has his/her own opinion on how often to use them, at what point during treatment to use them or if to use them at all.
Each of these procedures has a specific purpose. Cold packs are mainly used to decrease inflammation and irritation to an area. Hot packs are used to decrease muscle tightness and hypertonicity. Ultrasound is mainly used to break up tough adhesions or knots found in muscles. It can also be used to try and break up calcium deposits such as heel spurs. Electrotherapy can be used to help alleviate pain or strengthen/reeducate a muscle.
I believe in treating the body as it is presented to me the day of your visit. If a patient comes in very acute pain, I may recommend using cold packs at home for one day before any treatment is given in order to decrease inflammation. I tend to be more conservative in my treatments and take what the body is willing to give on any certain day. I don't believe in using electric stimulation before a treatment because it decreases the patient's awareness of pain, which could possibly make a condition worse. Pain is your body's way of letting you know that there is a problem and should not be ignored.
These extra modalities do not cure any problems, but help to give temporary relief during acute episodes of pain. I most cases, I will recommend some form of home care via hot/cold packs or one of the muscle gel/creams I provide at the offices.