The use of ice to manage post-operative and acute injuries has been well established in healthcare for many decades. The proposed mechanism of action is a reduction in tissue temperature which slows nerve conduction, reducing pain. It is also proposed that it causes vasoconstriction of blood vessels limiting swelling and bleeding. Cold therapy – or cryotherapy – has been criticised because it may only cause transient and shallow cooling of tissues, so deeper injuries may not actually receive any of these benefits.
Newer products have been introduced that combine cryotherapy and compression. They apply constantly-cycling ice water with a pressure cuff to maintain cooler temperatures at deeper levels in the tissues for longer periods of time. One such machine is the Game Ready, which we have been using at Healthzone Physiotherapy for more than a year. We have been using this machine on acute soft tissue injuries and post-operative joints, and have been able to see the benefits it provides our patients in terms of recovery and pain management.
As with any treatment we like to use, it has been supported in the literature through various clinical trials. Although we use this machine on many parts of the body including feet, ankles, calves, quads, hamstrings and shoulders, most of the research has assessed its efficacy on knees.
- In a study looking at 280 patients after having a total knee joint replacement, the patients who regularly used Game Ready demonstrated a reduced need for pain-relieving medications, a trend towards greater walking distance achieved post-op and increased satisfaction.
- In 36 patients post-ACL reconstruction, use of the Game Ready machine lead to improved pain levels and reduced reliance on narcotic medications.
- In a study of 39 patients post-ACL reconstruction, Game Ready application of ice and compression lead to reduced consumption of pain relief and improved active knee range of motion.
- In 30 patients who received a hip joint replacement, use of the Game Ready reduced post-operative blood loss and wound discharge, reduced hospital stay, and improved pain levels.
If you are suffering from an acute injury, particularly one accompanied with significant pain and swelling, or are looking for orthopaedic post-operative care, come and visit one of the team at Healthzone Physiotherapy where we can include the Game Ready machine in your management plan if it is appropriate for you.