Cryotherapy is the use of cold in the treatment of acute and sub-acute injuries as well as to minimize the discomfort after athletic reconditioning. The most common cryotherapy tools used include ice packs, and ice massage; used alone or in combination with electrical currents.
Cryotherapy typically delivers a three to four stage sensation; first, an uncomfortable sensation of cold, followed by a stinging, then burning or aching feeling and finally numbness. Generally, a minimum of 10-15 minutes is needed to achieve an extreme analgesic (pain-relieving) effect while lowering the temperature to the injured area, therefore reducing the metabolic rate and swelling associated with tissue injury. Cold is extremely useful in the acute phase of common inflammatory conditions such as bursitis, tenosynovitis, and tendonitis.