Many subscribe to the R.I.C.E. theory or- rest, ice, compress, elevate- as part of recovery. But, “ice” doesn’t have to be taken so literally.
Storing wraps that are used alongside ice packs or machines are susceptible to mold. For someone working in a clinic, it can be hard to properly clean and store devices to avoid mold growth.
Also, it means cleaning up the mess that ice leaves behind throughout the day.
Benefits of Utilizing an Iceless Cold Therapy Unit
When using an iceless cold therapy unit, gel packs can be placed into the freezer, and then used to cool a joint. Cold therapy aids in decreasing pain, muscle spasms, and swelling. Therefore, iceless cold therapy units help patients feel more comfortable, while stimulating healing.
While there are benefits to utilizing cold therapy for injuries. However, cold isn’t always the answer.
Heat VS Cold
When dealing with acute injuries, it’s best to ice immediately as heat can increase inflammation. Also, cold therapy numbs pain and can even limit bruising. That being said, for lingering injuries that someone has had for longer than six weeks, heat may be the best course of treatment.
Heat aids in increasing blood flow and can relax tight muscles or relieve aching joints. For those struggling with range of motion, which heat can help improve.
The Combo of Cold & Compression
While cold therapy is effective to reduce pain, cold therapy is more effective when combined with intermittent pneumatic compression.
The National Library of Medicine published a randomized clinical study observing two groups recovering from ACL surgery who both used a cryotherapy/compression device three times each day. One group was prescribed a narcotic the other was not. The study determined the use of combined cold and compression therapy improved short-term pain relief.
When to Utilize Cold Compression Therapy
Cold compression therapy can be utilized for either injury prevention or recovery. Often, cold compression units are used to treat muscle sprains and strains. For an active approach to healing, patients can utilize the LOVE method:
L- Load: Working on utilizing the strained muscle without pain
O- Optimism: Not getting discouraged after an injury
V- Vascularization: Working on cardiovascular health
E- Exercise: Participate in the exercises prescribed by a physical therapist
However, directly after injury, many recommend the PEACE method:
P- Protect: Keeping the injury safe from irritation
E- Elevate: Prop up the injured joint to help reduce swelling
A- Avoid: Instead of applying ice to the injury, avoid all cold therapy treatments
C- Compress: Apply pneumatic compression to the injured area
E- Educate: Talk to physical therapists, athletic trainers, and constantly educate yourself on the injury and best road to recovery.
For those wanting to avoid cold therapy, PowerPlay’s devices include a removable get pack allowing the wrap to work for compression without cold therapy.