Cold therapy is used for acute injuries between 24 and 48 hours following injury.
For injuries that are inflamed and swollen, cold therapy helps to reduce blood flow to the area helping control inflammation and reduce muscle spasm and pain.
Cold therapy benefits:
- Constriction of blood vessels therefore reducing bloodflow to the area and further inflammation
- Reduces cell metabolic activity including those which contribute to swelling
- Provides pain relief
There are many ways cold therapy can be applied:
- Cold hosing (very effective on lower leg injuries)
- Ice cubes/frozen peas wrapped in a towel and applied to the area
- Cold gel pack
- Cold therapy boots
- Bucket of ice cold water with limb immersed
Cold therapy should not be used for more than 15-20 minutes to avoid further damage to the area and there should be intervals of at least 10 minutes between treatments to allow the tissues to return to normal function.