Cold application (cryotherapy) is the simplest and most commonly used method for treatment of acute musculoskeletal injury. Among chiropractic practitioners it is the most often utilized (94.5%) passive adjunctive therapy(1). The pathophysiological effects of cold have been well documented. Studies have shown that cold applications can reduce the metabolic rate of a tissue, decrease pain and swelling, and reduce muscle spasm(2). Most health care practitioners are taught to use ice therapy for treatment of bruises, strains, sprains, or muscle tears and most are familiar with the rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) principle following acute soft tissue injury, yet there is little agreement in the literature on the optimum application technique for such care.
(1) Christensen MG, Kollasch MW. Job analysis of chiropractic 2005, Greeley, CO: National Board of Chiropractic Examiners: 2005
(2) Knight KL. Cryotherapy in Sports Injury Management. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics; 1995