Cold Packs: FSA Eligibility
No prescription required.
How are cold packs used to treat injuries?
Cold packs are a mainstay in countless American homes to treat both major and minor muscle/joint injuries when they arise, as they are one of the most effective means available of reducing inflammation around an injured body part. From traditional ice placed in plastic bags to ready-made packs placed in the freezer to devices that are designed ergonomically to fit specific body parts, cold packs can be found in styles to suit just about any type of stress or strain injury. In addition to reducing swelling and pain, cold therapy can help to limit the amount of bruising by lessening blood flow to the affected area, thereby restricting internal bleeding and the overall size of the bruise.
Cold packs are a means of applying cold therapy (also known as cryotherapy), a method of treating muscle or joint injuries with the direct application of ice or a frozen gel pack. These devices are invaluable for their ability to reduce bleeding in muscle tissues to control swelling and the duration of bruising. Additionally, cold packs can alleviate muscle pain and spasms, as well as slowly numb the area to cut down on inflammation. Cold packs should be applied to the affected area for 24 to 48 hours after the injury has taken place, and to avoid damaging the skin, these cold packs should only be kept on the skin for 20 minutes at a time (Healthline).
What is contrast therapy?
In addition to being a stand-alone treatment, cold therapy can also be used in tandem with heating pads/packs to treat muscle/joint injuries in a process called contrast therapy. The best way to illustrate this is by looking at hot and cold packs as a pump: heat therapy will dilate blood vessels to increase blood flow of nutrient-rich blood, while cold therapy will constrict blood vessels and allow them to soak up as many nutrients as possible, thereby speeding the healing process. A cold-to-warm ratio of 1:3 or 1:4 minutes is ideal, and in many cases this method has sped recovery times for injured individuals (National Center for Biotechnology Information).