Cold packs are helpful in reducing local metabolism, inflammation, swelling, muscle spasm 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 10-15 minutes, 3-4 times per day initially and then on an as needed basis.
When ice is used to decrease swelling, it is usually only used for a day or two following the injury. However, during rehabilitation you may slightly irritate healing tissue and ice can be used to stop swelling. Ice should never be applied for longer than 15 minutes or it can cause other problems like skin damage. Therefore, most physical therapists would advise you to use an ice pack that warms up quickly on its own, such as frozen vegetables.
Cold helps to do the following:
Reduces local metabolism
Decreases inlfamation and swelling
Relaxes muscle spasm
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