Cold treatment can be used to relieve pain and swelling. It is especially helpful for joint pain, allergic reactions such as bee sting, a bump or cut from a fall (please see fall prevention information) or itching.
- Rubbing alcohol
- Resealable plastic bag
- Small towel
- Paper cups (for ice massage)
To make a cold pack: Mix one cup of water and one cup of rubbing alcohol in a resealable plastic bag. Remove as much of the air as you can before you close the bag. Place the bag in a freezer overnight. Before applying the ice pack, protect the skin from burn by placing a thin towel between the skin and the ice pack. Shape the bag to the painful area. Keep in place for 10-15 minutes.
A frozen towel is a great way to administer cold. Simply place a folded damp towel in the freezer for 10-20 minutes and apply.
If you need an ice pack quickly, just add ice and a little water to a resealable bag or grab a bag of frozen vegetables from the freezer. Don’t forget to protect the skin.
To do ice massage, start by freezing water in a paper cup. After it is frozen, peel away the paper. Gently rub the painful area with the ice in a circular motion. Continue for 5 minutes. You do not need to place a protective layer over the skin in this case because the ice is moving continuously.
- Avoid applying ice therapy directly on bony portions of the spine.
- You may repeat cold therapy several times a day. Allow the temperature of the skin to return to normal between icings.
- Do not use cold therapy if you have poor circulation or numbness due to diabetes or any other condition.