Cold Therapy Units: Frequently Asked Questions
People that are new to cold therapy may have lots of questions about the devices. These are some of the most common questions we receive.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cold Therapy Units

By Clark on June 19th, 2014

Cold therapy is a simple way to cool skin and tissue without using ice (which can often get too cold and uncomfortable). People tend to have many questions about cold therapy before starting their cold therapy regimen, Shop-Orthopedics has put together this list to help answer some of those questions.

Frequently Asked Questions about Cold Therapy:

Q: How Cold Does The Pad Get?
A: The cold therapy pads generally reach between 45 and 60 degrees fahrenheit. The actual temperature changes depending on the manufacturer of the machine, the amount of ice you use, and environmental factors such as ambient temperature and humidity. This lower temperature means that the pads can be worn for longer, allowing you to use cold therapy more effectively.

Q: Is Cold Therapy Messy?
A: Cold therapy is very clean when compared to traditional methods of cooling, like ice packs and pads. The devices are so clean because ice and water is added to a reservoir that is away from the cooling pad. When you're finished, you can dump the reservoir safely down the sink with no mess and no fuss. Cold therapy doesn't use any chemicals - just ice and water. This also means it's safe for the environment.

Q: Does Cold Therapy Use Special Chemicals?
A: No. Cold therapy only requires ice and water. No special chemicals are needed to make the therapy work. Cold therapy is environmentally friendly and family safe.

Q: Are Cold Therapy Machines Loud?
A: No. Cold therapy machines use a special pump that is silent. This means your cold therapy is delivered quietly. The pump used is similar to a household aquarium pump.

Q: How Long Can I Use Cold Therapy?
A: You should discuss with your doctor how long you should wear the device, but typically most persons use it for up to 4 hours a day for 3 to 4 weeks following a surgery or injury. Your doctor will prescribe a regimen that should be followed for your cold therapy unit.

Q: Can I Use Cold Therapy After a Surgery?
A: Yes. Many doctors actually prescribe a cold therapy unit following a surgery. They are an effective way to combat swelling and pain after surgery on the knees, shoulders, elbows, and more.

Q: How Long Will The Ice Last in my Cold Therapy Unit?
A: The ice will last anywhere from 4 to 8 hours depending on the manufacturer of your unit, the size of the ice, the amount of water you are using, and the ambient temperature where you are using the device. It's important to experiment with different combinations to find out which works best for you. It's recommended to use larger chunks of ice as these will provide the best cold therapy for the longest duration.

Q: Can I Sleep With My Cold Therapy Unit Activated?
A: No. Sleeping with your cold therapy unit attached is not recommended because the machine may get cold enough to damage the skin. It is important to periodically check the skin underneath the wrap to check for blisters, swelling, or other indications of irritation. Sleeping with the unit on may cause injury to the skin and is not recommended.

Q: Has Cold Therapy Been Clinically Proven To Work?
A: Yes. Please see this document for a listing of studies and their findings.

Q: Do these devices use latex in the pads or tubing?
A: The only confirmed device with no latex is the Ossur Cold Rush Unit.

Troubleshooting Your Cold Therapy Unit:

My Cold Therapy Device Isn't Getting Cold
Check to make sure that the reservoir is filled with ice and water and that the pump is activated. Often times if there isn't enough ice, the machine won't make the pad cold. Remember that this isn't going to be as cold as a bag of ice, rather it will be around 45 to 60 degrees fahrenheit

My Cold Therapy Unit Won't Turn On
Ensure that your cold therapy unit is plugged in. Some devices have switches on the unit that you must turn on before the unit will start. The units are fairly silent, so you may have to listen carefully to hear the pump working.

My Cold Therapy Machine Isn't Pumping Through The Pad
Check the hose and pad for kinks. The pad won't pump if there are kinks in similar fashion to a garden hose. Open the device as well and make sure the filter isn't clogged or blocked.

My Cold Therapy Unit Has Another Issue Not Listed Here
If your unit is still having issues, or has an issue that isn't covered here, contact the manufacturer. Typically their contact information is on the unit, and they will be able to assist you directly.