Icing Injuries: Melting the Myth of Ice's Healing Power

Ice has long been a popular method for treating acute injuries in sports medicine and rehabilitation.

However, recent research has brought some confusion regarding its effectiveness.

The use of ice in injury management dates back to 1978 when the RICE protocol was introduced.
It included Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

Over time, this protocol evolved into POLICE, which added Protection and Optimal Loading.
Including Optimal Loading highlights the importance of movement in the early stages of recovery.

While ice is known for its analgesic properties, providing pain relief by cooling the skin, its impact on underlying muscles is minimal.
It does not significantly affect muscle temperature.

Moreover, studies have questioned the healing properties of ice.

It is suggested that immediate icing of an injury may delay the natural healing process by inhibiting the release of Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1), a hormone that promotes tissue repair.

In light of this new evidence, the use of ice in injury management has been revised.
In 2019, the PEACE & LOVE protocol was introduced, prioritising Protection, Elevation, Avoidance of Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, Compression, Education & Load, Optimism, Vascularization, and Exercise.

This comprehensive approach no longer includes ice as a standard practice.

However, there are exceptions. In cases where excessive swelling restricts movement and impairs muscle function, such as severe joint sprains or post-ACL surgery, limited use of ice may be beneficial to control swelling.

On the other hand, muscle tears typically involve less swelling and may not require ice during the early stages of injury management.

Overall, based on current research, the use of ice in injury management is less important than previously believed.
The focus should be on a safe and timely return to movement, as movement plays a crucial role in the recovery process.

At Benphysio, we specialize in physiotherapy. Visit our website, www.benphysio.com, to learn more about our services.

24 Jan 2024