Ice therapy – the benefits of using cold for treating inflammation

Elbow sprain symptoms

Ice therapy can be very beneficial in the treatment of some musculoskeletal conditions.

Cold is a vasoconstrictor which reduces blood flow and helps to clamp the muscles and blood flow to certain tissues which might be inflamed or sore.

Now as a general rule of thumb ice therapy is really helpful following a trauma, injury or accident. So if you’ve sprained an ankle or had an injury playing sport it’s recommended to use ice therapy because it reduces blood flow, brings down inflammation and the detrimental effects that go with excessive congestion in the area.

When to use ice therapy

A certain amount of inflammation is very beneficial because inflammation contains white blood cells. White blood cells fight any bugs or infection that might have come through an open wound. So that’s one of the reasons following trauma the area becomes inflamed. It’s the body’s attempt to fight any germs or bacteria that might have entered the body.

The other thing inflammation does, is it accelerates the healing process by allowing fresh blood into the area and it brings fresh oxygen and nutrition with it.

The downside though is that excessive amounts of inflammation are detrimental to the healing process. Tissues become inflamed and the cells will stagnate in the blood, these blood cells will eventually die and the white cells in particular will cause necrotic damage to those tissues.

So in certain situations where you have excessive amounts of inflammation we use ice therapy to reduce blood flow and the likelihood of chronic inflammatory effects.

Treatment for muscle and joint pain

If you’ve got a musculoskeletal condition, whether acute or chronic in nature and you want some help and advice on managing the pain you can use our pain assessment feature to find the likely cause of your pain and download expert treatment advice.

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Watch the ‘Benefits of Ice Therapy’ video here

Other resources

4 health benefits of cold therapy