Cryotherapy (ice) is used during the initial phase of an injury (72 hours) in order to minimize tissue damage, pain, and swelling. It is also used during the rehabilitation phase in order to diminish any secondary inflammatory response.
Some examples of cryotherapy agents are:
- Bag of frozen peas or corn, wrapped
- Moldable frozen gel packs
Heat is used after the initial phase of injury has resolved. It is often used in conjunction with cryotherapy as well as other modalities, such as massage and stretching.
Some examples of heating agents are:
- Rice packs, gel packs, or clay packs
- A damp wash cloth or towel
When used properly, these modalities can be a very important part of your pet’s home treatment program. Human studies have shown that patients receiving cryotherapy post-surgically quite often need less pain medication.
Benefits of heat and cryotherapy include:
- Decreased tissue inflammation
- Promoted healing
- Reduced pain
- Decreased muscle spasms
- Improved muscle flexibility and joint range of motion