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Cold Therapy



Cold therapy is a non-surgical non-medication modality used to help relieve pain and swelling. Cold therapy is commonly used immediately following an injury. There are many forms of cold therapy, including ice massage, commercial cold packs, or ice packs. Your doctor or rehabilitation therapist may use cold therapy in conjunction with other treatments, such as heat, ultrasound, or exercise therapy. Cold therapy causes the blood vessels in the affected area to constrict. As a result, blood flow to the affected area is reduced. This can produce a numbing effect to relieve pain. The slowed circulation can also help to reduce swelling and inflammation. When the cold application is removed, the increase in blood flow aids in the healing process.


Your doctor or therapist can provide cold therapy and give you a schedule to use at home. Cold therapy should only be applied for 15 minutes or less. The cold packs should never come in direct contact with your skin. It should be wrapped in a protective barrier, such as a towel before application. You may repeat cold applications as instructed by your doctor or therapist.



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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit

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