Cold Compression Therapy

Today, technology for treating back pain, both surgically and non-surgically, continues to become more sophisticated. Modern techniques include treating tissue damage with stem cell therapy, electrotherapy, sound waves, and internal pain pumps. But one of the best treatments used to get pain and inflammation under control following a back injury involves icing. Following an injury, the cells around damaged tissues release chemicals into the blood that triggers an inflammatory response in the body. This inflammatory response involves increased blood flow to the injured area, as well as cells that kill and remove toxic chemicals. This inflammatory response continues until the tissue injury has healed, at which time the pain will cease.

Icing or cold therapy is one means of reducing pain in an injured area - following an injury. Following an injury, there is an inflammatory response in the body that involves an increase in temperature around the injured area. This temperature increase is involved in our feeling of pain and discomfort. Cold therapy, also known as cryotherapy, involves the lowering the metabolic rate of the tissues around the injured area by lowering its temperature.

Cold Compression Therapy: Cold Compression therapy is a multi-treatment program that is also known as R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). This treatment program is designed to reduce excess swelling and pain around an injured area - following an injury. This type of treatment is often prescribed immediately following a surgery, as well as soft tissue injuries such as ligament and tendon sprains and pulled muscles.

The idea of REST following an injury is to take the pressure off the injured part of the body so that it has the chance to heal without the injury becoming re-aggravated.

The idea behind ICE is that an injury to a part of the body increases the metabolic rate of the tissues as part of the inflammatory process. Icing decreases the tissue's metabolic rate. This reduction in the metabolic rate will help the tissues to survive following the injury. Cryotherapy is another name for the use of cold therapy in a clinical setting.



For the care of acute injuries, static compression is usually used in conjunction with cold treatments. Compression involves the use of devices that increase external pressure on the tissues that are injured. This increase in external pressure prevents swelling (edema) from developing at the site of injury. Static compression prevents fluids from accumulating by impeding fluid loss from the vessels in the injured area. Ice used together with compression enhances compression's benefits because the extended static compression increases tissue density and improves skin contact.

There are several continuous cold therapy devices that are approved for both home use and in settings such as post-operative surgical areas. Continuous Cold Therapy Devices involve the circulation of cold water to pads which are wrapped around the areas of tissue damages. Some of these devices are still in regular use, while others have been pulled off the market due to safety reasons and adverse patient reactions/injuries. The adverse reactions of these therapy devices involve malfunctions in these devices from controlling the ice times and the temperatures delivered around the pads. At extreme low pressures, the treated limbs or joints may be prone to frostbite or adverse skin reactions, which may be very dangerous.

Cold Compression Wraps: While ice bags, ice wrapped in towels, and bags of frozen vegetables may do a good job in reducing inflammation around injured areas, they may produce messy and inconsistent results. Cold compression wraps may be a better alternative and offer more consistent temperatures around the entire area being treated. These wraps typically include encapsulated ice or fluids which may be re-frozen after use. These products are designed not to exceed icing/cooling time beyond what would be safe to the skin and body. These wraps may be cooled in refrigerators and freezers, or they may be single use bags or wraps whose cooling properties are triggered by shaking or slapping it.