Cryotherapy Effects, Part 1: Comparison of Skin Temperatures and Patient-Reported Sensations for Different Modes of Administration

in International Journal of Athletic Therapy and Training
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year subscription

USD  $74.00

1 year subscription

USD  $99.00

Student 2 year subscription

USD  $141.00

2 year subscription

USD  $188.00


Alterations in skin sensations may be responsible for pain reduction provided by cryotherapy, but the exact physiological mechanism is unknown.


To investigate perceptions of skin sensations associated with different modes of cryotherapy administration and skin temperature at the point of perceived numbness.


Repeated measures.


30 healthy subjects (12 Male, 18 Female, Age = 21.1±1.9 years).


Crushed ice bag, ice massage, and cold water immersion.

Main Outcome Measures:

Perceptions of sensations during each mode of cryotherapy administration were derived from a Modified McGill Pain Questionnaire. Skin temperature was recorded when numbness was reported for each treatment.


Participants experienced sensations that included cold, tight, tingling, stinging, and numb. Ice massage sensations transitioned rapidly from cold to numb, whereas cold water immersion and ice bag treatments produced altered sensations for longer duration. Ice massage decreased skin temperature significantly more than the other two modes of cryotherapy administration.


Ice massage may be the best mode of cryotherapy administration for achievement of anaesthesia as rapidly as possible, whereas cold water immersion and ice bag application may be better for attainment of pain reduction associated with noxious stimulation of skin receptors.

Hailey N. Love is an athletic trainer at William Campbell Combined School in Gladys, VA.

Kimberly A. Pritchard is an assistant professor, Division of Athletic Training at Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA.

Joseph M. Hart is an assistant professor, Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA.

Susan A. Saliba is an associate professor, Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA.