Cold therapy has proved to be quite effective in treating different types of soft-tissue injuries, including a sprained ankle and a hamstring tear. It helps to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Also known as cryotherapy, cold therapy reduces blood flow to the affected area and reduces inflammation and swelling that cause pain. It also temporarily reduces nerve activity to alleviate pain. But for you to enjoy these benefits, you have to be disciplined.
Why Discipline Is Important in Cold Therapy?
As with any other treatment, you need to follow a set of guidelines when applying cold therapy. These guidelines are meant to make the treatment successful and safe. Many things can go wrong if you disregard these instructions. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), many people have developed serious complications and injuries from wrongly applied cold therapies. Such injuries include numbness, frostbites, skin irritation, redness, tingling, among others.
If you are using a cryotherapy machine, understand that it is different from a pack of ice. A cryotherapy system stays colder for a longer period of time than an ice pack because an ice pack will eventually absorb heat from your body. On the other hand, a cryotherapy machine continuously applies cold temperature to the affected area, which is why you need to be very careful with it. Thankfully, most modern cryotherapy machines come with auto shut mechanisms to prevent overexposure to cold temperatures. The device will shut down automatically when the set time is over.
Whether you are using an ice pack or a cryotherapy machine, you have to take certain precautions. For instance, you have to wrap the affected area with a piece of cloth or a bandage so that the cold therapy pad or ice pack doesn’t touch your skin directly. Also, make sure that the pad is not wrapped too tightly. Keep checking your skin under the pad for signs of redness. If your skin starts to turn red, you should remove the device or ice pack immediately.
You should also stop applying the cold therapy immediately if you notice any sign of reaction on your skin and the underlying tissue, including numbness, burning sensations, blisters, welts, increased swelling, discoloration, and unexpected pain. Cold therapy applied for extended periods or too directly can cause skin, tissue, or nerve damage. Also, remember to keep the skin under the wrap dry throughout the therapy session. For more information on cold therapy, talk to Supply PT.