Cold packs are made using ice or gel material. The packs are placed on the area of pain to transfer cold to the patient's skin. Alternatively, ice is massaged on the area of symptoms, or the limb is immersed in an ice water bath. This application of cold causes vasoconstriction of the blood vessels in the area resulting in decreased pain and inflammation. After the cold pack is removed, hyperemia is noted as blood returns to the area in order to restore normal temperature. The physiologic effect can be up to several centimeters deep depending on the technique utilized. Cold packs can be used to manage symptoms or can be utilized to control inflammation after injections, exercise, or manual physical therapy intervention (Santamato et al. 2009).
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