Cryotheraphy is the cold application of an ice pack on a human body. The application is for a period of between 15 -20 minutes depending on the athlete’s skin type. Cryotheraphy is mainly used during acute phase to stop bleeding hence it is usually referred to as the first line of defense in most injuries..It also reduces many adverse conditions related to inflammatory phase.
Physical effects of cold on a tissue
- Conduction – when a cold object is applied to a warmer object, heat is abstracted.
- The longer cold exposure is the deeper the cooling is.
- Tissue that has previously been cooled takes longer to return to normal temperature that tissue that has been heated.
- Depth of cold penetration can reach up to 5cm
- Decrease in tissue temperature
- Decrease in blood flow
- Decrease in muscle spasms
- Decrease in pain perception
- Decrease muscle fatigue
- Decrease metabolic rate
- Decrease waste products in area that act as muscle irritant
- Increase collagen inelasticity and joint stiffness
- Increase capillary permeability
- Acute sprains
- Acute strains
- Circulatory distabances
- Prolonged application over superficial nerves
- React with hives, joint pain and swelling
- Conditions that can cause vasospasm of digital arteries lasting minimum hours
- Can lead to tissue damage
- Ice should never be applied for longer than 20-30 minutes
- Hunting response occurs when cold is applied for more than 30 minutes, thus reaction against tissue damage from too much cold.
Stages of Cryotheraphy
- 0-3 minutes after initiation feel cold sensation
- 2-7 minutes after initiation feel mild burning aching
- 5-12 minutes after initiation numbness, anesthesia
- Ice packs
- Flaked or crushed ice in towel or plastic bag
- Ice massage
- Paper cup filled with frozen water to form an ice cylinder
- Cold water immersion
- Whirlpool bath
- Vapo-coolant spray