Trauma Survivors Network - provided by ATS

Survive. Connect. Rebuild.

A Program of the ATS

Cryotherapy (Cold Application)

Cryotherapy is usually applied for 5 to 30 minutes for cooling of both superficial and deep tissues. Methods for cold application include ice packs, ice massage, ice immersion, controlled cold compression units, whirlpool, and vasocoolant sprays. Cold agents can penetrate tissue to depths up to 5 cm, depending on type of agent and duration of application. However, for each method the patient experiences four sensations in the following order: cold, burning, aching, and finally numbness. The purpose of cryotherapy is to reduce pain and inflammation, decrease muscle spasms, and reduce spasticity through decreased blood flow. Cryotherapy is recommended for acute injuries and is usually applied during the first 24 to 72 hours following an injury. Additional indications for cold application are muscle spasms or guarding, spasticity, edema, and acute burns.