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Pain Perception during Repeated Ice-Bath Immersion of the Ankle at Varied Temperatures

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context:

Ice-bath temperatures range from 1 to 15ºC; the pain response during treatment might be temperature specific.

Objective:

To determine levels of perceived pain during ice-bath immersion at distinct temperatures.

Design:

2 (sex) × 3 (temperature) × 9 (treatment time).

Setting:

Athletic training research laboratory.

Participants:

32 healthy subjects.

Intervention:

Ankle immersion in 1, 10, and 15°C ice baths for 20 minutes.

Main Outcome Measures:

Discomfort measured by the Borg scale of perceived pain at immersion for 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 15, and 20 minutes.

Results:

The magnitude of pain felt depended on treatment temperature (F18,522 = 11.65, P < .0001). Pain ratings were 43% higher for 1ºC than 10ºC and 70% higher than 15ºC, and ratings at 10ºC were 46% higher than at 15ºC.

Conclusions:

Pain depends on treatment temperature. Patients might report inconsistent pain ratings with varying temperature.

The authors are with the Dept of Kinesiology, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV 89154.