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Time Course of Habituation After Repeated Ice-Bath Immersion of the Ankle



2003, 12, 323 – 332

Context: Cryotherapy is initially uncomfortable, but habituation is thought to occur during treatment. Objective: To examine pain habituation to ice-bath immersion over 5 consecutive days. Design: Mean Borg ratings were analyzed by ANOVA. Setting: Athletic training laboratory. Intervention: Ankle immersion in a 1 °C ice bath for 20 min. Participants: 28 healthy individuals. Main Outcome Measure: Level of discomfort was rated at immersion; during treatment at 1, 3, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, and 20 min; and 1 min posttreatment. Results: Analysis revealed significant main effects for day and time and a Day × Time interaction. Day 1 had higher pain ratings than days 4 and 5. From min 1 to 11 there was a progressive decline in pain rating; after that there was no significant decline. Conclusions: Discomfort was greatest during the first 5 min, and perception of discomfort at initial immersion was consistent across 5 days. In addition, after 3 days of treatments habituation occurred. Taken together, this suggests that treatment habituation is not the result of change in receptor sensitivity.


Authors: Mack D. Rubley, William R. Holcomb, Mark A. Guadagnoli

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