Cryotherapy is the application of cold or ice for the treatment of acute or overuse injuries. It may be applied via a number of methods including, ice pack, ‘cryocuff’, frozen vegetables, crushed ice, ice block massage or ice water immersion. The effects of cryotherapy are a decrease in pain, decrease in swelling/bleeding and a decrease in cellular metabolism. Ice should be used for 10minutes every 2 hours to achieve the desired effects of treatment.
When using ice packs it’s important to place a thin towel (such as a tea-towel) between the skin and the ice to prevent burns. You may also choose to wet the towel. It is important to be aware that ice is cold and can lead to burns if too cold, it also decreases the pain sensation and can result in increased swelling if used over the recommended time period. In saying all of this, cryotherapy if used correctly, is a cheap and safe form of treatment that can be easily administered at home.
Heat is used in the treatment of pain, muscle spasm, chronic pain and chronic swelling. It can be applied in a number of different forms including wheat bag, hot water bottle, wax bath and hot pack. The effects of heat treatments are pain relief and an increase in local blood flow (i.e. the area to which the heat is applied).
It is important to note that heat should not be used in the first 24-72 hours after sustaining an injury. Heat can be applied for 20 minutes or until the pack cools. Heat packs should be wrapped in a towel to prevent heat burns and should be mild comfortable warmth. Hot water bottles are generally not recommended due to the risk of a burn. Please be careful when using hot water bottles and do not fill them with boiling water. It is important to be aware that you can burn yourself if the heat is too hot or applied directly to bony areas without additional padding and heat causes increased swelling and bleeding if used in the first 24-72 hours following injury.
Check with your therapist which type of treatment is appropriate for you.
Cold and Hot packs are available to purchase from the clinic please ask your therapist or reception for more details on our products.