Endomed, Inc.

Cold Therapy

After an injury, blood vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrients to cells are damaged. The cells around the injury increase their metabolism in an effort to consume more oxygen. When all of the oxygen is used up, the cells die. Also, the damaged blood vessels cannot remove waste. Blood cells and fluid seep into spaces around the muscle, resulting in swelling and bruising. When ice is applied, it lowers the temperature of the damaged tissue through heat exchange and constricts local blood vessels. This slows metabolism and the consumption of oxygen, therefore reducing the rate of cell damage and decreasing fluid build-up. Ice can also numb nerve endings.

Cold Therapy With Compression

Cold therapy alone does not eliminate swelling, cold therapy with intermittent pneumatic compression has been clinically proven to control swelling (Stockle 2000). Not only does this intermittent compression limit swelling, it also helps to remove swelling once it’s occurred by forcing tissue debris into and along the lymphatic system, thus lowering oncotic pressure and promoting fluid reabsorption. The use of cold compression in the postoperative period results in a dramatic decrease in blood loss. In addition, mild improvements are seen in early return of motion and injectable narcotic pain needs in the postoperative period.

Clinical Studies

Cold and Compression Therapy (.pdf)