A cold therapy machine or unit applies dual cold and compression therapies to reduce pain and help the patient quickly regain range of motion. Cold compression therapy uses a combination of cryotherapy (or cold therapy) and static compression. This combination helps reduce pain and treat inflammation after the patient has suffered an acute injury. They are also effective for treatment after undergoing a surgical procedure.
The cold therapy from the machine lowers the temperature of the injured tissues. This reduces the metabolic rate of the tissue and increases its chances of survival.
The compression of the cold therapy machine also plays a vital role in pain reduction and healing. By increasing external pressure on injured tissues, the cold therapy unit helps to reduce edema and swelling. The compression limits tissue fluid loss, which then reduces the risk of subsequent fluid accumulation and swelling.
The addition of compression to ice therapy further reduces tissue temperatures due to greater skin contact. Hence the cold therapy machine helps tissues cool faster. The increase in tissue density as a result of the compression also helps reduce tissue temperature. This is because the increased density also increases the thermal conductivity of the tissue. Furthermore, tissue temperatures remain cool for a longer period after the end of the cold therapy machine treatment.
The therapy from a cold therapy unit can be used to not only reduce pain and bruising but also to reduce muscle spasms. These machines are now in widespread use by professional athletic trainers and physical therapists to treat soft tissue injuries of all types.