Applying ice or a cold pack can help care for an acute injury or provide relief from pain caused by activity.
When you have an acute injury, blood and other fluids rush to the site to heal it. This causes swelling. The swelling can cause pain, bruising, and tearing. Applying cold to the area can help limit the inflammation by tightening the blood vessels.
An acute injury is an injury caused by a traumatic event like a fall or crash. Some examples of acute injuries include:
- Muscle pulls
- Ligament sprains
- Broken bones
Cold therapy can also help relieve pain or soreness from activities, like running or basketball. Applying ice or a cold pack to the knee afterwards may help reduce or prevent inflammation.
Tips for applying cold to your knee:
- Use an ice pack that wraps around your knee.
- If you don’t have a cold pack, put ice in a plastic bag and wrap it in a thin towel.
- Apply cold to your knee for no more than 10 minutes at a time. Repeat as long as it provides relief. Just allow your skin to return to a normal temperature before applying cold again.
- For an acute injury, repeat every few hours for the number of days recommended by your physician.
You may also want to read Should I Use Heat for Relief?