Cold therapy (also known as cryotherapy) is a method of relieving inflammation and swelling pain immediately after an injury. Cryotherapy can either be used for specific areas or all of the body.
What is cold therapy?
Parts of cold therapy
Cold therapy can be achieved by using any of the following:
- Ice pack
- Frozen gel packs
- Coolant sprays
- Ice massage
- Ice baths
Cold therapy decreases the amount of blood going to the area that you apply it on. This allows swelling and inflammation to reduce thus lessening the pain.
Using cold therapy
Always use a towel to wrap your cold pack before applying it on the area. Direct contact can cause damage to the skin and tissues. Cold treatment should be used immediately after an injury (within the first three days). Consult your physiotherapist or chiropractor on how to safely use a cold pack. Also, ensure that you follow the instructions found with the product.
How long can you use cold therapy at one time?
Cold therapy should NOT be used longer than 20 minutes at a time. Instead, short 10-15 minute sessions should be used throughout the day. Make sure to consult your physiotherapist or chiropractor before using cold therapy.
When can a cold therapy be used?
When should cold therapy NOT be used?
- When there is muscle or joint stiffness (use heat therapy)
- People with poor circulation (such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease)
- People with sensory problems that prevent them from feeling when the area is getting too cold.