Cryotherapy and heat therapy
Cyrotherapy or cold therapy is used to decrease pain and reduce swelling. Ice packs, cold packs, and cold baths can all be utilized. Cryotherapy is useful for the management of acute injuries (0-48 hrs) because the resulting vasoconstriction reduces bleeding in the area. It also decreases inflammation and pain. Cold therapy can also be used in more chronic situations such as icing an arthritic joint after exercise. A towel should always be placed between a cold pack and the skin to avoid skin irritation. We most frequently use cryotherapy for the first few days after surgery.
Heat is used to decrease pain and increase tissue extensibility. Massage and friction can be used for superficial heating. Hot packs wrapped in towels provide classic moist heat. Warm water hydrotherapy also includes whirlpools, hot tubs, and underwater treadmills. Heat relaxes tissues and decreases muscle spasms so is helpful when warming tissues for stretching exercises.