Cryotherapy: A tool in physical therapy

Have you ever wondered why you put an ice pack on your injury and what are its benefits or why hot and cold ice packs are used? Today we will have a look at them as an old method as medicine is


Cryo is a Latin word meaning extremely cold and therapy means treatment so cryotherapy means treatment using cold 

Relation with physical therapy

As we know that physical therapy is the use of physical means to cure different diseases. The same is with cryotherapy in it we use physical means (cold) to cure disorders of the musculoskeletal system it comes under techniques of physical therapy and a skilled physical therapist can perform this because it may cause ice burns if used inappropriately

Cryotherapy agents

Some of the most commonly used agents of chemotherapy are

  • Frozen gel
  • Ice cube
  • Ice spray
  • Medical cryotherapy gun( mostly used by expert physical therapists)
  • Cryosauna


It is based on one of the principles of physics known as latent heat of fusion

        “The amount of heat energy which is required to convert a unit mass solid in a liquid state”

In cryotherapy, the heat from the body melts ice into water 

When to use it?

Cryotherapy can be used by a physical therapist in multiple musculoskeletal diseases such as 

  • Acute soft tissue injury
  • Ankle sprain
  • Ligament sprain
  • Muscle sprain
  • Myofascial trigger points(it is a Painful point in a band of skeletal muscle which just feels like a knot in the muscle)
  • Tendinitis( A swelling in the tricep tendon)
  • Acute swelling
  • Acute sports injury 
  • Post orthopedic surgery

The physiological effect of cryotherapy

  • In it, vasoconstriction occurs first as a result of body hemostasis but if the period extends more than 20 minutes then cold-induced vasodilation occurs. It is known as the hemodynamic effect
  • a decrease in nerve conduction is observed. If ice is applied to a nerve trunk all nerve conduction will be blocked as a result of this pain is reduced and spasticity also decreases
  • In cryotherapy metabolic rate is decreased so that abnormal metabolic reactions are prevented. It also hinders the activity of cartilage destroying enzymes 


It can be helpful in

  • Reducing inflammation
  • Reducing pain and spasticity
  • Helps in muscle contraction
  • Increase speed of repair
  • Decrease surface temperature 
  • Effective on a wide range of injuries
  • Easily available and super cheap


  • If used inappropriately can cause ice burns
  • In rear conditions can lead to frozen bites
  • Bradycardia 


It is a helpful and immediate treatment used by a physical therapist and most professional athletes but in a controlled manner under expert supervision because if used inappropriately it can cause more harm instead of benefit.

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