Cold packs are highly effective treatments, used to ease pain and reduce swelling. There are many options of cold packs available, including:
- Freezable gel packs
- Disposable packets which turn cold instantly when squeezed (no refrigeration or freezing required)
- Home made ice packs – Put some ice in a zip-lock bag and wrap it in a towel, or wrap a bag of frozen vegetables in a towel
How does a Cold Pack Work?
When we get injured, the blood vessels in the area are damaged and begin to leak fluid. This results in swelling. When we place a cold pack on the area, the vessels start to constrict, reducing how much fluid they loose. The less fluid that leaks from blood vessels, the less swelling occurs. The sooner you apply an ice pack to an injury, the sooner it can do its job of reducing pain and swelling
How Long should I Leave it on?
Apply cold packs for a period of no more than 10 minutes, and leave at least two hours in between applying a new ice pack. When you apply ice, you first feel the cold, followed by a burning sensation which turns into tingling, and finally the area goes numb. If you feel numbness in the area before your ten minutes is up, remove the cold pack.
Are there any Precautions I should take?
Always wrap the cold pack in a towel to reduce the risk of damage to the skin and nerves. Talk to a healthcare professional before using a cold pack if:
- Your skin has reduced sensitivity
- You are diabetic
- You have poor circulation, or blood vessel disorders