What is Cooling Therapy?
Cooling therapy (aka Cryotherapy or Cold Therapy) involves applying something cold to an arm or leg which has had surgery or an injury. The classic example is applying an ice pack after an injury.
How does Cooling Therapy work?
Cooling therapy reduces the amount of pain that a patient feels after surgery. After an operation, pain sensations travel from the area of surgery to the spinal cord and up to the brain. When the only sensation the patient is feeling is pain, the pain tends to become the focus and is felt more intensely. By applying the sensation of cold to the arm or leg, we essentially “distract” the brain and spinal cord from the pain. This is also how acupuncture works. It’s similar to having two people talking to you at the same time. The cold therapy distracts us from the pain.
Has Cooling Therapy been proven in Medical Studies to reduce pain?
Yes. Multiple studies have demonstrated the benefits that cooling therapy has in reducing pain.
Does Cooling Therapy improve my chance of healing?
No. Cooling therapy only reduces pain and inflammation and does not improve the chance of healing. This means that in the longer term, your chance of success after an operation is not affected by your decision over whether to use cooling therapy.
What are the advantages to using the Cooling Therapy?
By lessening your pain levels, you should be able to use less pain medication. These strong pain medications (like Oxyxodone) have unfortunate side effects including addiction, constipation, and weight gain, and so reducing the need for the medications by using the Cooling Therapy has significant potential advantages for the patient.
How do I get the Cooling Machines and Pads?
If you decide to use the cooling therapy and your surgery is at Kareena Private Hospital, the machine and pads will be provided to you on the ward after the operation, and you will take this same machine and pads home with you. The nurses on the ward will apply the pads and set up the machine for you. If you feel that a nurse has been particularly helpful, please notify us so that we can show them our appreciation for helping our patients with cooling therapy.
Do I need anything else apart from the machine and pads?
Yes, lots of ICE!! In addition, the machine runs on power and you will need access to a power outlet. There is a battery pack adapter for patients wanting mobility, however this requires 4 AA batteries and only lasts a couple of hours. It will also help to have a good friend or relative to fill the machine with ice for you and help you apply the pads, although you can do this on your own.
Are there any potential side effects to using cold therapy?
All treatments have potential side effects. When cold therapy is used excessively without giving the skin a rest, some patients can develop a blotchy rash in the skin. This usually disappears rapidly once the cold therapy is stopped.
How many hours should I use the cooling therapy each day?
Most people use the cooling therapy for 4 to 5 hours and then have a 30 min break to allow the skin to recover while reloading the machine with ice. However, it is OK to use the machine all night when sleeping. If you use the machine continuously for days without a break you may get a blotchy skin rash which usually disappears once the cooling therapy is stopped.
The Cooling Machine
The Breg Kodiak Cooling machine is essentially an esky with a motorised pump. Once filled with ice and water, it pumps cold water along tubing and into the connected cooling pad. It is quiet and easy to use. It can be powered both electrically (recommended) or with a battery pack.
The Cooling Pads
The Breg Kodiak cooling pads have been specifically designed for each joint. Adjustable velcro straps make application and removal more convenient. All cooling pads come with a sterile hygienic liner, which makes the therapy more tolerable.
Unlike some other systems, these cooling pads and liners are disposable and designed for single patient use only, optimising patient hygiene and minimising the risk of infections.
How long should I have the cooling machine?
Most people benefit by using the machine for a two-week period. After that time the machine is to be returned to The Orthocentre. You can extend the hire if you feel that you are still benefitting from the therapy. The cooling pad is yours to keep.
Who Should I contact if I am having a problem?
After hours, please contact Kareena Hospital (02 9717 0000) and speak to a nurse on the Surgical Ward. During work hours, you can call the surgical ward or The Orthocentre (02 9525 2055). For non-urgent problems please email email@example.com.