Cold therapy (cryotherapy) promotes the vasoconstriction of blood vessels and ultimately reduces blood flow. Alongside this, it also reduces inflammation and oedema (swelling), decreases muscle spasms and decreases metabolic demand. Cold therapy is used immediately following acute injury or surgery and as needed thereafter.
Heat therapy (thermotherapy) promotes the vasodilation of blood vessels and helps to increase circulation to an injured area. This supports the lymphatic system and therefore stimulates natural healing while reducing pain and stiffness. Heat therapy is used after the initial inflammatory response from an injury or surgery begins to diminish.
Contrast therapy (CT) alternately opens and constricts the veins in the vascular system, helping to increase blood flow to an injured area without causing the accumulation of additional oedema (swelling). CT also helps decrease nerve sensitivity to pain.
Intermittent Pneumatic Compression Therapy (IPC) is used to provide even pressure around an injured area, mechanically reducing the amount of space available for swelling to accumulate. This, therefore, increases lymphatic flow, decreases swelling and enhances tissue healing. It has been shown to be most effective when combined with cryotherapy.