Cryotherapy is the 'I' component of R.I.C.E.. This treatment is normally used to look after injuries, usually caused by sports. Cryotherapy for pain relief may be used for: • Runner's knee • Tendonitis • Sprains • Arthritis pain • Pain and swelling after a hip or knee replacement • To treat pain or swelling under a cast or a splint • Lower back pain
Studies have shown the benefits of applying ice: • It lowers your skin temperature. • It reduces the nerve activity. • It reduces pain and swelling. Experts believe that cryotherapy can reduce swelling, which is tied to pain. It may also reduce sensitivity to pain. Cryotherapy may be particularly effective when you are managing pain with swelling, especially around a joint or tendon and allows healing to occur.
Some of the possible mechanisms include the following. • A decreased nerve transmission in pain fibres. • Cold reduces the activity of free nerve endings. • Cold raises the pain threshold. • Cold causes a release of endorphins. • Cold sensations over-ride the pain sensation – known as the pain gate theory.