What Are Cold Packs Used For

While many individuals understand the many great benefits of hot showers, they may be confused when it comes to the advantages of cold packs. Believe it or not, if you get injured while you are playing sports, your trainer may recommend ice compresses or ice massage. Below you will discover the many great benefits of utilizing cold packs to treat injuries.

Muscle, Tendon, and Ligament Injuries

Musculoskeletal injuries often occur during repetitive sports and work activities. The musculoskeletal system is made up of the joints, muscles, tendons, cartilage, ligaments, and other connective tissue.

The most common, mild musculoskeletal injuries include bruises, strains, sprains, and hematomas. Of course, you have repetitive strain injuries that you must be concerned about, as well. Tendinitis, bursitis, tenosynovitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome will often plague third collar and office workers, because they are involved in repetition activities and often maintain a fixed position for long periods of time.

While many of injuries may require further treatment such as surgery or prescription medications, ice packs can be utilized as a form of home treatment.

Insect Bites and Stings

While most insect bites and stings are harmless, they can still leave their mark. Itching, edema, stinging, papules, blisters, burning, and redness (erythema) are common signs of the inflammatory process, where white blood cells form together to fight off the antigen or invader.

Benefits of Cold Therapy

If you are not facing a severe injury, you should definitely begin immediate treatment and that should start with the cold pack. By applying the cold pack to the affected area, you will notice a reduction in your pain level almost immediately. The reason for this is because the ice will decrease the blood flow to the injured area, which in return will slow down the pain signals that are being sent to the brain.

Over time the affected area will become numb, just as if it was injected with lidocaine.

Inflammation Reduction

Again inflammation is part of the inflammatory process, where the immune cells are trying to combat the damaged cells or foreign organism. The skin will become reddened and warm to touch, but this a natural response of the immune system.

Ice will reduce inflammation, by reducing blood flow (vasoconstriction) to the area. For those skeptics, medical researchers have performed several studies on ice applications. the results were astounding and showed that within 5 minutes arterial blood flow was reduced by an overall 38%, 19% to the bone, 26% to soft tissue.

Avoid Over Usage

It is vital that ice applications should not be utilized for longer than 15-20 minutes, because it can cause damage to the surface of the skin. Never apply the ice directly to skin, instead wrap the ice in a towel to prevent direct contact. If the tissues become ischemic, frostbite and nerve palsy may occur.

Many individuals will choose to alternate from ice packs to heat therapy over a 24-hour period. This will decrease the risks of skin surface damage caused by ice alone.

Cold Therapy Benefits

It is important to note that inflammation causes pain, joint stiffness, edema, erythema, and hyperalgesia (hyper-sensitivity to pain). PRICE (protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation) therapy is definitely your best option in treating minor musculoskeletal injuries.

Ice will help alleviate inflammation, which will reduce pain, edema, muscle spasms, while slowing down the rate of metabolism.