Cold therapy, or cryotherapy, is a proven method for reducing pain, swelling, and edema. You have probably applied ice packs after a sports injury or other trauma, but do you know why you do this?
How Cryotherapy Works in the BodyStated simply, cryotherapy is the application of cold to an injury. It provides a therapeutic effect for three reasons:
- Impact on the circulatory system - When you apply cold to your knee after MCL surgery, your blood vessels constrict, or get more narrow. This reduces blood flow, which causes the body to respond by increasing the size of the blood vessels, bringing a rush of fresh blood to the area. This process continues throughout the application of cold, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the healing tissue and flushing cellular waste away.
- Impact on cellular metabolism - The cells in your body perform a variety of functions, all of which are important. Each cell has a life cycle in which it is created, uses energy to do its designated work, and then dies. The rate at which a cell consumes energy is its metabolism. The application of cold slows down cellular metabolism so that less energy is required. This contributes to faster healing after MCL surgery because your body can maximize energy use for tissue repair.
- Impact on the neurological system - You feel pain as a result of nerve fiber activity, which is slowed down with the application of cold. Reducing pain throughout the recovery process can help you heal faster and potentially reduce the amount of medication you might need.
Why Cold Compression Therapy Works Better than Ice PacksIn its simplest form, cryotherapy can be applied with ice packs. However, with modern technology there is a better way. The main disadvantage of ice packs is that they constantly absorb heat from your body, which causes the ice temperature to gradually increase, reducing its therapeutic effect over time.
Game Ready has developed a system that allows you to apply consistent cold temperatures around the entire knee joint for the duration of the therapy session. Cold water circulates through a loop system that includes an ice reservoir, so the temperature remains constant. At the same time, pneumatic compression creates a pumping effect that helps improve the flow of blood and other fluids. This system provides two important benefits when it comes to cryotherapy:
- The effects of therapeutic cold lasts longer
- The cold is able to penetrate deeper
This means that the deeper tissues in your knee joint benefit from cryotherapy after MCL surgery and each session has a longer lasting impact than ice packs alone.
If you are interested in learning more about how Game Ready can help speed up your MCL surgery recovery, locate a provider near you.
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