Ice-induced anesthesia is often used to permit pain-free activity. However, icing before a skilled performance may distort the ability to acknowledge sensory stimuli and may thereby mask certain protective mechanisms. Inadequate peripheral feedback regarding position of a limb in space could expose the joint to injury. This study was designed to determine the effect of ice immersion on ankle joint position sense. Three different pretest conditions of no ice immersion, 5 min of ice immersion, and 20 min of ice immersion were administered to 31 subjects prior to joint angle replication testing with an electrogoniometer. Subjects completed eight repositioning trials (four at each of two test angles) following each condition. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed no statistically significant difference between conditions, trials, or angles. The results suggest that joint position receptors in the ankle are resilient to this type of ice treatment, or that the affected receptors (i.e., skin and muscle) were adequately compensated for by other sensors such as joint receptors.
Jane LaRiviere and Louis R. Ostemig are with the Department of Exercise and Movement Science, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403.