The Best Cold Therapy Machine
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7 Best Cold Therapy Machines in 2023
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Cold Therapy Machines Buying Guide
Cold therapy machines are a great way to apply consistent cooling to reduce pain, aid post-operative recovery, and severe circulatory issues, without having to apply an old-school ice pack.
With a wide range of ice therapy machines available, it can be overwhelming to know which ice therapy system to select.
We’ve outlined the key features you may want to consider, to buy an ice therapy machine that meets your budget and needs.
Cold Therapy Machines
A cold therapy machine is sometimes also called an ice therapy machine. A cold therapy machine provides compression whilst providing a cold effect.
Some cold therapy machines not only provide ice therapy systems, but some models offer hot or cold therapy.
Aesthetically, a cold therapy machine looks quite similar to an ice reservoir and they use ice and cold water as freezing agents.
Cold therapy machines have a tube that looks like a hose, which is attached to a container that looks like an ice water cooler box.
The other end of the tube is connected to the cooling pad, which is wrapped around the part of the body you wish to treat with cold therapy treatment.
The best cold therapy machines provide a continuous flow of effective cold therapy.
Benefits of Cold Therapy Machines
Using ice or ice-cold water, combined with compression therapy is considered an excellent treatment by physiotherapists, to sports trainers. Cold therapy helps to treat inflammation, and injuries, and decrease pain.
Cold therapy machines work by providing therapeutic cold to numb the area, hence reducing pain promptly, without you having to take medication.
As swelling and inflammation reduce, the body heals the injured area faster.
Other benefits of an ice therapy system include stimulating blood flow and lymphatic fluid, which in turn rejuvenate tissues with oxygen and nutrients.
Features of Best Cold Therapy Machines
Motorized vs. Non Motorized
Motorized cold therapy machines have a motor and they provide a strong yet consistent flow of ice therapy to the area being treated.
Whilst some of the motorized models can be quiet as a mouse, motorized cold therapy machines can be noisy.
Non-motorized ice-cold therapy machines are quiet and lightweight, making them easy to travel with, especially since you don’t have to worry about plugging them into any power source.
On the flip side with a non-motorized cold therapy machine, you will not get the technical features that come with a motorized model such as auto-timers.
Think about where you will want to use the cold therapy machine, sitting on a chair on your dining table, or whilst laying down on your sofa. How long do you need the tube to be?
Many models come with an extra-long tube which provides greater flexibility. Other models offer the possibility to detach tubes which you can remove if you need to move whilst you are using the cold therapy machine.
The tube is what will allow cold liquids to flow to the machine’s pads or wraps and provide you with relief to the treatment area.
What material are the tubes made of? Opt for tubes made from heavy-duty material to prevent the tubes from breaking easily or leaking.
How well insulated are the tubes? Tubes that are insulated will prevent cold air from escaping.
Pads vs Attachments
Which part(s) of the body do you intend to use the cold therapy machine on? Just your knee or shoulder? Or do you want to have the flexibility to use the pads on multiple parts of your body?
If you have a specific area you wish to treat, you may want to look for pads that cater specifically to that area. For example, you want to treat your knee, so you look for cold therapy machines with pads designed specifically to treat the knee area.
On the other hand, if you want pads that allow you to treat multiple parts of the body, you should opt for a cold therapy machine with universal pads.
Another thing to bear in mind is whether the pads are reusable. If the pads are not reusable, if yes, can you wash them? Otherwise, you may end up spending quite a bit to buy additional pads.
The other thing to consider is whether you want the cold therapy machine to provide the feature to set timers or continuous use which can be a great safety attribute to have.
Having an automatic shut-off feature can be quite useful to prohibit the ice-cold therapy machine from overworking, especially if you end up falling asleep whilst you are using it.
Weight and Size
Ideally, you want a cold therapy machine that is not too bulky and is compact. You want it to be relatively easy to carry.
Depending on the region of the body you wish to treat, will also determine how big you want the cold pad to be. The larger the surface area you want to treat such as the back, the bigger the cold pads should be. On the other hand, if you want to treat a small area such as your ankle, you should look for smaller cooling pads.
Ease of Use
How easy or complicated is it to use the cold therapy machine? How durable is the machine? Does it come with an instruction manual?
Whilst many cold therapy machines provide ice therapy, there are some models available in the market which offer both cold and heat therapy.
At the budget-friendly end of the spectrum, an ice-cold therapy machine is around $130 and can go up to $220 and upwards at the more premium end.
Balance what your needs are, the features you are looking for, and the highest quality ice cold therapy machine you can get within your budget.
Read the fine print and be clear about who the warranty is with. Typically the warranty is with the original manufacturer. What duration is the warranty for?
Does the warranty cover in-home repairs during your warranty period? Do your homework.
Cold Therapy Machines FAQ
How does cold therapy work?
A cold therapy machine distributes heat therapy or cold therapy via the tube, which travels to the pads, that is wrapped around your body.
When the machine emits cold therapy, it compresses the treatment area by removing fluid that may have built up in the region and is causing the area to swell.
The cold temperature restricts blood flow to the injured area temporarily.
Can cold therapy machines be used on all areas of the body?
The short answer is yes. Many cold therapy machines focus on one part of the body only, such as the shoulder, or knees, or ankles.
Are cold therapy machines better than ice packs?
On the surface, it may appear that cold therapy machines operate exactly like ice packs. Cold therapy machines get much colder than ice packs filled with ice water do, allowing the coldness to seep into the area with pain and swelling deeper.
Unlike ice packs which stop being cold after a certain period of time, many cold therapy machines offer continuous cold therapy for a few hours and you don’t have to hold the pads in place as you do with traditional ice packs.
How long should you use a cold therapy machine?
The ideal time for you to use a cooling machine is for around 20 minutes. You should not ice an area for too long, otherwise, it will cause more harm than good.
Make sure you follow the instructions, to ensure safe usage of the cold therapy machine.
If you have specific health conditions, ensure you receive professional medical advice before using a cold therapy machine.
Cold Therapy Machines Sources
- Cold and Compression in the Management of Musculoskeletal Injuries and other Orthopedic Operative Procedures: A Narrative Review – ResearchGate
- Is Cold Therapy Really Efficient after Knee Arthroplasty – ScienceDirect
- The Efficacy of Combined Cryotherapy and Compression Compared with Cryotherapy Alone Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstructions – ResearchGate
- The Cold Truth: The Role of Cryotherapy in the Treatment of Injury and Recovery from Exercise – PubMed
- Don’t Lose Your Cool With Cryotherapy: The Application of Phase Change Material for Prolonged Cooling in Athletic Recovery and Beyond – PubMed
- Prolonged Cooling with Phase Change Material Enhances Recovery and Does Not Affect the Subsequent Repeated Bout Effect Following Exercise – PubMed
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