Cold therapy (using an ice pack) is commonly recommended by doctors and therapists for acute injuries to help reduce pain and swelling. However despite its common use, its efficacy has actually yet to be proven in clinical studies. In fact, while ice may help with temporary pain relief, it causes a vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels), decreasing the amount of blood flow. This results in a decrease in metabolic/enzymatic activity as well as decreased oxygen demand to the injured area, effectively slowing the healing response initiated by inflammation.
Alternatively, Laser therapy has been proven effective to help pain and inflammation for both acute and chronic conditions. Infra Red Laser therapy (aka photobiomodulation therapy or cold laser) uses specific wavelengths of light that stimulates cells to increase ATP production. This leads to increased cellular health and energy. The laser also causes vasodilation (opening of blood vessels), combined w/increased cellular energy, this increases the ability of inflammatory mediators to get to an injured area, allowing for faster reduction of pain and inflammation.
The problem is most people’s access to infra-red laser is often somewhat limited; however clinically it’s the preferred choice over ice whenever possible. In reality, (unless you can get to an infra red laser) ice is still the most convenient and natural method for reducing pain and swelling. At Solutions, we recommend cold laser when preparing a joint for an allograft injection, and also for acute injuries to joints and muscles (applied as soon after the injury as possible). Cold laser therapy is painless and our staff is highly trained at how and when to use it for the most effective results in both acute and chronic conditions.