The use of cold temperatures to treat soft-tissue injuries has proved to be one of the most effective ways to relieve muscle pain, swelling, and inflammation. That’s why athletes are always advised to use this type of therapy to treat their sports-related injuries at home. However, sometimes cold therapy can be disastrous, especially if applied incorrectly. In this article, you will learn when it is not advisable to use cold therapy.
How Does Cold Therapy Work?
Cold therapy can be applied through various methods, including ice packs, frozen gel packs, coolant sprays, ice baths, and cold therapy devices. When you expose your skin to extremely cold temperatures, your blood vessels, especially the ones near the surface of your skin, become narrow, reducing blood flow to the targeted area. This helps to reduce pain and swelling. It also increases the anti-inflammatory proteins (IL-10) in the targeted area, speeding up the healing process.
When Cold Therapy Is Not Recommended
First of all, it is important to mention that you should stop applying ice, frozen gel, or any other form of cold therapy if your skin around the injury loses sensitivity. Numbness is the final stage before your skin gets burned by ice. So, if your skin already feels numb or tingly, you should remove the ice and warm the skin around the affected area immediately. Also, you should not use cold therapy if the injured skin has blisters or burns.
Putting ice on already compromised skin will only cause further tissue damage, leaving you with serious ice burns. Furthermore, certain health conditions such as vascular disease and diabetes can make your tissues more susceptible to ice burns. Therefore, you should seek your doctor’s opinion before you use cold therapy, especially if you have any of these conditions. If you are also concerned about your skin’s vulnerability to frostbites, you should speak to your doctor about it before you put ice on your skin.
It is also important to note that cold therapy is more effective if applied immediately after injuries. Medical experts recommend you use cold treatment not more than 72 hours after the injury. Remember, the primary purpose of using cold therapy is to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation. It also helps to accelerate healing. Research has also shown that using ice to treat lower back pain related to muscle stiffness will only exacerbate the stiffness. For more information on cold therapy, get in touch with My Cold Therapy today.