Cryokinetics is a therapeutic process that includes the application of external cold therapy to an area of the body that has recently been injured. Various cooling modalities are used to apply cold to the injured area, e.g. ice packs, ice towels, ice massage, frozen gel packs, ethyl chloride and other vapocoolants, chemical reaction devices and inflatable splints using refrigerant gas. Cold therapy is followed by full passive range of motion and progressive active exercises.  This technique has proven to be very successful, especially with ligament sprains of the ankle.

The purpose of cryokinetics is to initiation early, pain-free range of motion and exercise following an injury. The anaesthesia, or affect of numbness, that arises from the application of ice does not remove pain-sensing mechanisms; it simply removes the current pain from the damage of the tissues. Ultimately, if active exercise is too vigorous pain can still occur.

Ice Bath

Ice Bath

Application. Cold should be applied for a maximum of 20 minutes, which is enough time to produce the numbed response without causing damage to superficial tissues. Once the patient feels numb, passive range of motion can be initiated. If the numbing affect begins to go away, the same cold process used before can be used again for about 5 minutes, or until numbing is felt again. After successful, pain-free, range of motion has been initiated, active exercise can be performed by the patient.  Active exercises can included, but are not limited to, resisted range of motion, gait training, and calf raises. Each exercise can be increased in intensity as long as patient remains pain-free. The key to the success of cryokinetics appears to be progressing as quickly as possible from one exercise to the other. I personally recommend an ice bath or ice slush for acute ankle sprains. This introduces the cold therapy but also allows the athlete to begin range or motion, and some exercise, while numbing starts.

 Benefits. As mentioned previously, cryokinetics allows early and pain-free range of motion and exercise. Exercise helps increase blood flow to the injured area, very important in healing, once the initial acute phase has passed and any bleeding has stopped.

Passive ROM

Passive ROM

Cryokinetic exercise re-establishes neuromuscular function, and atrophy or wasting of the muscles has not had time to set in. Swelling is reduced dramatically through the combination of cooling and exercise. Be advised, motor performance is affected by temperature with a critical temperature being around 18 degrees C, above and beneath which muscle performance decreases. There is also a critical temperature for the application of cold with inflammation and edema increasing at temperatures below 15 degrees C. Precautions should be taken because prolonged application at very low temperatures could have deleterious effects.

 Applying cryokinetics immediately following an acute, but minor, injury can help athletes return to activity very quickly. Most clinical studies report that the use of cryotherapy, such as cryokinetics, has a positive effect on pain reduction and on the recovery of various injuries. Those with minor ankle sprains have the potential return to sport within days of the injury. Cryokinetics can be the difference of having your star player hit the game winning shot or sit on the bench. It is worth a try.

Provided by Primus Sports Medicine Staff