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How To Apply Ice

Based on the current research, it is now questionable whether applying ice on an injured body part provides any therapeutic benefit except for offering temporary pain alleviation. Ice somehow came into vogue in the 1980's, and it was thought that it prevented inflammation and swelling, and in doing so was beneficial. Yes, application of an ice bag over a painful body region does cause the region to feel numb. It does not, however, prevent inflammation. It also might not offer any enhancement to healing. Some studies indicate that it might impair the healing mechanism. So I remain cautious about recommending ice application for injuries. While ice surely will feel good initially when there is pain and swelling, it clearly has been shown in studies to either not improve the outcome of an injury. It is conjectured that it might impair the healing process altogether. While more research is needed on this topic, my recommendation is to use ice judiciously early on after an acute injury when there is a lot of pain and swelling, and to consider not using ice at all for chronic pain conditions when there might be better self-help avenues, e.g. heat application, analgesic lotion massage or use of kinesiologic tape.
If you are going to use ice, or "cryotherapy", apply it as follows:

* Use a plastic bag with ice cubes in it and apply directly to the
skin for about thirty (30) minutes.
* Never use chemical packs or bags of peas.
* Place ice bag on skin with no towel layer, and resist the urge to
take the bag off: it takes several minutes to feel numb.
* To temporarily quell pain, rub and massage skin with an ice bag for
only a minute or two. You'll hate it, but it will feel better in the end.
* Repeat ice sessions every two hours, or only a few times in a day if
necessary.

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