Your body’s soft tissue includes muscle, fascia (connective tissue), nerves, blood vessels, and lymph vessels, predominantly. When this soft tissue is injured (via bruise, tear, sprain, etc.), it is like a bunch of broken fluid pipes that require the “pressure” to be turned off until the pipe can heal enough to resume stable and reliable function. To reduce this pressure, short, local applications of cold are called for.
The effects this has on the injured joints, bursae, or fascia include:
- vasoconstriction of blood and lymph vessels, which squeezes out excess plasma and lymph from the site of damage and helps control hemorrhage and hyper-edema (excessive swelling), and
- brief analgesia, or relief from pain, which may help moderate the inflammatory response from excessive to helpful.
What we’re going for here is modulation of the inflammatory response from over-reactive to measured. This allows the tissue to begin healing in the most helpful bio-environment possible. When applied properly, cold will accelerate the healing rate via beneficial tissue metabolic activity and enhanced return to comfortable function.
1. Hydrotherapy; Theory and Technique, 3d Edition; Patrick Barron; Pine Island Publishers, 2003; pg 72