Cold Therapy Tip Sheet

Document created by tfreiberg Employee on Dec 27, 2016Last modified by mcunningham on Mar 22, 2017
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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.


Supplies you will need

  • Water
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Resealable plastic bag
  • Small towel
  • Ice
  • Paper cups (for ice massage)


What to do

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.


Special instructions

  • 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.