How Cold Therapy Can Reduce Knee Pain

How Cold Therapy Can Reduce Knee Pain

Chronic knee pain may occur due to an accident, surgery, or illnesses like arthritis. 

One way to relieve the pain is by using cold therapy. 

As you get older, it’s not uncommon to experience knee pain. It’s important to learn simple self-care measures like cold therapy to reduce it. 

Learn more about cold therapy as an excellent self-care measure in this article. You will also find three easy ways to try cold therapy at home. 

What is Cold Therapy?

Cold therapy uses low temperatures to find relief from chronic knee pain. 

Such pain may result from an ailment, trauma such as an injury or prolonged inflammation that constricts the nerve endings. 

Cold therapy is not a new therapy. It’s been around for centuries, with its earliest mention dating back to 3500 BC. Still, it’s only in the 1980s that modern science began exploring its many health benefits. 

When you opt for cold therapy, you can find relief from pain. Its use also includes hastening recovery time if the knee pain results from an injury or surgery. Discomfort and inflammation on the knee cause you to experience pain. 

The hot and uncomfortable feeling needs cold therapy to stop the burning sensation. The area becomes numb, and you notice a reduction in inflammation. Cold therapy is good for arthritis patients who experience chronic joint pains, including the knees. 

Arthritis comes not only with joint pain but also stiffness rendering you immobile. You can try cold therapy to see if it works for you. 

How Does It Work to Reduce Pain?

Cold therapy isn’t new for pain management and can be helpful when you have knee pain. Often when you have knee pain, the area is hot to the touch and has inflammation. 

You can cool the area to reduce inflammation and get relief. 

The icy temperature of cold therapy works to decrease inflammation.

The blood vessels in this area constrict and reduce blood flow—once the blood flows slower, the pain and inflammation decrease.[1]

When the knee pain isn’t as severe, you can move about with ease and even be in a better mood. 

The cold temperature also helps trigger dopamine production in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with the feeling of happiness. 

If the knee pain results from exercise, cold therapy will help you recover faster. It’s best to practice it a few hours after your workout. By that time, your body and knee are experiencing inflammation. The low temperatures will soothe the sore muscles and the knee pain.

Does It Really Work?

There is scientific evidence that cold therapy is an effective way to reduce knee pain. But, you have to do it 1 or 2 times a week to see effective results.[2]

Consistency is vital when it comes to pain management using cold therapy. 

Some people opt to go for Cryotherapy in a cryo-chamber. For example, you can try the PBC (Partial Body Cryotherapy) that needs nitrogen to lower the temperature. \

It’s a tube-shaped enclosure you enter alone and cover your body from the neck down. 

Inside the camber, your body experiences freezing temperatures for up to 4 minutes. While this is a fancier and costly option, there are other affordable ways you can try cold therapy at home. 

3 Easy Ways to Try Cold Therapy at Home

1. Cold Compress

Cold compress is among the easiest forms of cold therapy. 

A cold compress can help you reduce knee pain. But, you first have to make one before you can use it. 

You’ll need a few items such as:

  • Light and long towel

  • 1 plastic bag with ziplock

  • 1 washcloth

  • Ice cubes

  • 1 cup of water

Step 1: Fetch the ice cubes from the freezer and place them inside the plastic bag with a ziplock. If you don’t have ice, you can use frozen food such as a bag of peas. Smaller vegetables are suitable since the bag will rest well on the knee. 

Ensure you have two to three bags of frozen food or many more ice cubes to refill the bag when it thaws. 

Step 2: Dip the washcloth in water and wrap it around the plastic bag with ice. The key is making the cloth cold. 

Step 3: Place the cold compress on your knee for up to 30 minutes. Afterward, you can use a light towel to dry your knee. 

2. Ice Bath

If your entire body aches, you can use an ice bath. That relieves aches and pains all over, including on your knees. 

Step 1: Start by filling a tub with cold water. Then add lots of ice. You can buy about three bags of ice in advance for this form of cold therapy. 

Step 2: Strip down to a pair of shorts and a T-shirt and enter the ice bath. Stay in it, but make sure you don’t exceed 15 minutes. Check your temperature tolerance and come out when done. 

Step 3: Step out of the bath, dry yourself and wear warm clothes as fast as possible. 

3. Ice Massage

You can massage the knee area to reduce the pain. 

Step 1: Fetch a paper cup, fill it with water, and place it in the freezer. 

Step 2: Get the frozen cup and peel off some of the paper at the top. Peeling exposes some of the ice in the cup. 

Step 3: Gently use this part of the ice to massage your knee. Keep peeling off the paper as the ice melts. 

Cold therapy is a viable option for knee pain reduction. The low temperature can bring down inflammation by restraining blood flow in the knee.[2]

As a result, you can enjoy better mobility and less stiffness. 

If you have arthritis or are recovering from surgery or an injury, consult your doctor about cold therapy. Afterward, you can try any of the three easy cold therapy methods at home. 

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Resources

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8173427/

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6449133/

3. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=134&contentid=95

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