Ice packs or cryotherapy are generally more effective in terms of depth of penetration than other superficial thermal modalities. Intramuscular temperatures can actually be reduced by 3-7 degrees C. This is helpful in reducing local metabolism, inflammation, and pain. The analgesic effects of ice result from a decreased nerve conduction velocity along pain fibers and a reduction of the muscle spindle activity responsible for mediating local muscle tone. It is usually most effective in the acute phase of treatment, though the patient can use it after physical therapy or the home exercise program to reduce pain and the inflammatory response. It is applied over an area for 15-20 minutes, 3-4 times per day initially and then on an as needed basis. Peripheral nerve injury and local frostbite secondary to prolonged cryotherapy has been previously described, emphasizing the need for monitoring of cryotherapy use.
At Island Spine and Sports we offer a wide variety of physical therapy options.
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