Cold Therapy Machines are often prescribed by athletic trainers after a tough workout and doctors for post-surgery recovery and injuries.
They are clinically proven to be an excellent in reducing swelling around the affected areas, promoting healing process after surgery and prevent any further damage to the injury.
How Does Cold/Ice Therapy Machine Work?
Also known as cryotherapy machines, it just works as an ice pack. The coldness will deaden the nerve endings temporarily and discourage the cellular metabolism around the affected area. This help in preventing the further damage of the tissues.
Why Can’t I Just Use Ice Pack Instead of Ice Therapy Machines?
Yes, we can use ice packs but the heat generated from an injury can quickly melt down the ice, so it has limited effect on healing process. However, cryotherapy machines deliver consistent cooling at a controlled temperature which leads to a natural and pain-free recovery.
And moreover filling ice regularly can a messy job for some people. If there is a rip or leak then it can lead to soreness too.
Which Cold Therapy Machine Should I Buy?
We understand the confusion as the market is filled up with so many options. While purchasing a cold therapy machine, you have to consider several factors like areas to heal, number of pads, fabric of the pads, quality and several others. We have provided a detailed explanation in our buying guide.
Based on these factors and reviews of people who used them over 5 – 6 months, we have picked up the best ice therapy machines for you.
Top 6 Ice Therapy Machines: Reviewed
|Ice Therapy Machines||Weight In Pounds||Safety-timer||Tube length||Temp Control||Buy Now|
|Polar Knee & Joint||5.9||Yes||56 Inch||Yes||Check the Price|
|Cryotherapy Universal||5.6||Yes||52 Inch||No||Check the Price|
|Vive - Adjustable Wrap||9.8||Yes||60 Inch||Yes||Check the Price|
|Aircast Non-Motorized||1.6||No||--||No||Check the Price|
|Cold Rush Compact||4.6||No||--||Yes||Check the Price|
|Thermax Universal||7||No||56 Inch||No||Check the Price|
|Polar Products Active 2.0||8.4||Yes||56 Inch||Yes||Check the Price|
Ossur Cold Rush Therapy System has taken the top position in our list. Its quality, features and durability makes it totally worthy to invest on.
Reviews of Top 6 Best Ice Therapy Machines For Knee, Shoulder & Foot
The American brand Polar Products has been in this business for more than 30 years now. With 4.5 ratings, Active Ice 3.0 is one of the best cold therapy machines ever made.
Designed for post-surgery pain relief, the cold therapy machine works on most critical pains and inflammations.
Unlike regular devices, it features a digital timer with 30 minutes increments. It’s a typical safety feature that allows you to set your treatment time. And makes sure you don’t damage your skin by any chance. In addition to it, you can adjust the temperature of your needs.
It also has one of the biggest reservoirs of 9 quarts. It includes a knee bladder (11×12”) with 3×44” velcro pad. But it can be used with other cooling pads from Polar Products.
It’s 5 feet long hoses makes sure you can move while wearing it on. The pipes are insulated and have easy-to-disconnect couplings for quick discharge. Moreover, it has a remote control. That means even an incapacitated individual can operate it without any difficulty.
Thought the seller mentions it to be very quiet, it does make some sound. Also, we didn’t quite like the design. It’s too ordinary for the price. But on the flip side, it is rugged.
Some owners mentioned that it lasted for 5 years without any issues. While some others said that too many tubes make it cumbersome.
- Effective on most intense surgical pains
- Adjustable temperature and timer
- 9 quarts reservoir
- Robust design
- 5 feet long tubes
- Looks a bit unprofessional
- Aggressive velcro pads
If you are okay with the price tag and the ordinary design, Polar Products active-Ice is a safe, efficient, sufficient cold therapy machine with 9 quarts of capacity. It has excellent customer feedbacks and has a robust design to last for years.
If you are looking for a cheaper option to get relief, you will surely value the Cryotherapy personal cold water therapy device. It is the best budget ice cold therapy machine you will find.
The reason we admire it is the universal pad ( 11×11”). It is designed in such a way that one can easily place it in their areas of pain- hip, ankle, shoulder, wrist, elbow, knee. Even they sell additional pads if needed.
The 3×39” Velcro pad wraps the problematic area and keeps it compressed for rapid relief. Insulated tubes help to maintain the cold inside, and the 52” hose continuously circulates the icy-cold water.
The reservoir is slightly smaller, but it is good to go for 4-5 hours easily. It even has a timer with 15 minutes increments. But sadly! It doesn’t have temperature control. It weighs just 5.8 pounds. So, anyone can carry it for you.
Most of the users are very satisfied with the effectiveness of the device. We heard from its owners that it’s super easy to use. Setting up the whole device takes around 10 minutes. It’s also on the quieter side.
Because of it’s smaller capacity, you have to refill it more often. One user mentioned a leakage in the pipes, while others say they are still using it without any difficulty.
- Best budget cold therapy machine
- Has a timer
- Easy to set up
- Short elastic pad
- Small size reservoir
Cryotherapy ice cold therapy machine is an excellent choice if you are after smaller and more budget-friendly options. Its a quick and easy solution for most of the pains that you suffer. Including post-surgery treatments.
If our 1st choice was too expensive and the 2nd too simple, then this Vive cold therapy machine will definitely impress you. It’s is a no-frill, practically designed device with the right price tag.
The two best things to admire in this machine are the transparent reservoir and the LED control board. The transparency of the tank lets you know when to refill the ice. And the LED controller adjusts the flow rate and set the timer with 30 minutes increments.
The advantage of the timer is that you can relax while it keeps track of time. Another thing to add is the presence of an integrated carry handle. However, the device is quite heavy, and we don’t recommend it to carry it while it’s full.
The cold therapy pad looks the same as the previous models. Its flexibility allows it to contour with your body parts. You can use it on your ankles, hip, shoulders, knee, and elbow.
The elastic straps are a little less tight, more like hugging braces, which are great for inflammation and joint-related problems.
The tank can hold up to 6 litter of ice. A 5 feet foam insulated tube maintains an even temperature throughout the system.
Despite not being the sturdiest, users love this because of its user-friendliness. However, the reservoir is small, and using the highest flow rate will start procuring heat.
- Transparent reservoir with marked water levels
- LED display with a flow rate controller
- Integrated handle
- Quiet operation
- Smaller size reservoir
- Not quite as sturdy
Velcro has excellent customer reviews. From setting-up to using everything is easy and convenient. And the price is also on point. If it’s for your aching joints, sore muscles, or accidental pains, don’t think twice.
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The Aircast DonJoy is the best cheapest cold therapy machine that we could found. The reason behind its super affordable price tag is the gravity-fed mechanism.
It doesn’t have a motor to circulate the water. The scientifically designed device circulates the water if you place it in a higher position. As soon as you connect the pipes, the water starts flowing into the cryo/cuffs.
The non-motorized system delivers a safe way of cryotherapy, which eliminates the risk of tissue damage due to over-cooling. It is effective on hemarthrosis, swelling, sports injuries, and any kind of muscle spasms.
It weighs only 2.4 lbs, it has an easy-carry handle, and anyone of any age can use this simple device.
One point to be noted here, it doesn’t come with a cold therapy pad. You have to buy it separately. But it is compatible with all Arctic cooling pads.
People who have used it strongly agreed that it’s a lot convenient and time-saving to use than ice-bags. They even mentioned how it helped them with the pain after knee replacement surgery.
However, to be honest, the water circulation is not as active as a motorized device. You have to refill and drain as you feel the water warming up.
Also, there is a small complaint about leakage, which we think is expected from all budget products.
- No power consumption
- Safe for the skin
- Easy to carry
- Simplest device on the market
- You have to buy pads separately
- Gets warm sooner
DonJoy cold therapy device has got fantastic reviews from its users. If you are still using an ice bag and looking for something that is cheap and does the job for you, go with it.
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Ossur Cold Rush is another good option for those with post-surgical pain and inflammation. It’s known for its effectiveness and robust build quality.
The item that we are reviewing comes with a knee pad. But there are 8 different types of cooling pads, including a universal pad, pads for your hips, shoulder, lumber, etc.
It has the highest- ice-to-water ratio that transfers less heat from the motor to the pad, ensuring rapid pain relief and 6 hours of continuous usage. You also get a temperature controlling knob, usually found in the most expensive cold therapy machines.
For people who have undergone knee replacements and wearing braces can comfortably wear the cooling pad under them. The soft elastic starts are never too tight but hold the pad in its place.
It weighs just 4.6 lbs. Also, it has a handle and a lid lock. The best part is, it produces very little noise (30 dB) even at the highest flow rate.
If it is for post-surgical pain relief, and you didn’t have consulted any doctor, we strongly advise you to seek the permission of a physician before using it.
A lot of people use ice-backs and frozen water bottles for convenience, but it strongly prohibited by the manufacturer.
From the users, we get to know that the device is satisfactory. They all agree that it delivers a consistent cooling sensation to the pad area. Owners also pleased with the quiet functioning motor.
However, it seemed that the manufacturer is not putting much effort into after-sales services. There are quite a few complaints about that. One customer reported that the tubes got crinkled, slowing down the rate of flow.
- Professional grade device
- Different ways of using it
- Great cooling
- Poor customer service
- Average build quality
Ossur is an excellent option for targeted pain relief, post-operational therapies. It’s a bit on the expensive side also, but again, it’s far from any average cold therapy machine.
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The next product on the list works very differently. It can provide both hot and cold therapy.
You can directly pour hot water in the reservoir or fill it up with ice-water, depending on what your doctor has suggested to you.
A rule of thumb is, apply ice on acute joint pains, injuries, inflammation, and swelling, where heat is for muscle pains and stiffness. So, you just need this one device at home as it is enough for all your pains and problems.
The good part is, this unit comes with a universal pad (11×12.5”) that can be used on every other body part. Also, it has a big and transparent reservoir. Hence, you can check if the ice is depleting without opening the lid.
The connecting hoses are 56” long. And there are three 3 elastic straps to hold the pad on the affected area firmly.
Now coming to the review part, quite a few users have noticed a leak in the connectors/pipes. So, keep a towel with you else as a backup.
Another thing is, it makes noise, which is quite common to cold therapy machines. But, it seems this one is a bit louder. This is also on the lower price side, so it makes sense.
- Both hot and cold therapy
- Universal therapy pad
- Big capacity
- Transparent reservoir
- No control buttons
If you think you need both hot and cold therapies, this is the best option to go for.
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The last cold therapy device on the list is from none other than Polar products — the reason we choose it because of its universal cooling pad.
Anyone who is suffering from joint pains, swelling, or inflammation can use to get instant relief. The pad is also great for knee surgeries or hip transplant.
It has a 9-quart reservoir, which means less frequent filling and refilling of ice-water. Moreover, there is a digital timer and a temperature control controller.
The 30-minute timer lets you set 30-minutes for each session then it requires resetting the device. It may sound cumbersome, but it’s a great safety device. It makes sure you don’t damage your skin with excessive cold.
The connecting pipes are insulated so that the water can stay cooler for longer. It has leak-proof and quick disconnect couplings. The bladder measures 10.5”x12.” and the elastic belt 44”. There’s also an easy-carry handle.
We came to know from its users that its noisy. But they also have mentioned that the American brand has excellent after-sales service.
Apart from some minor leakage problems, the device is durable, strong, and safe.
Apar from the loudness the motor has, it a sold unit. It has a big reservoir, a 30-minute timer, and a universal cooling pad to use all your aching areas.
- Universal pad
- 9-quart reservoir
- Digital timer
- Suitable for post-surgery therapy- knee replacement, hip replacement
- Minor leakage problems
What Is An Ice Therapy Machines?
Ice therapy machines are motorized devices designed to provide coldness and static compression just like an icepack. They deliver a blast of therapeutic cold to the injured area which helps in easing pain, reducing swelling, support tissue repair and promote general healing.
This machine consists of an ice reservoir which circulates the water. The heat emitted by the body (especially the injured area) makes the cold water into warm which is sent back to reservoir and re-distributed once the water is cold again. In this way, the ice therapy machine provide consistent cool temperature throughout the treatment.
Usually, traditional ice packs don’t cover enough area which becomes difficult for easing the pain. But in cold therapy machines, wraps/pads are specially designed to solve this problem. Wraps are considered much better than pads in terms of area coverage and fluid distribution around the injured area which helps in providing effective compression to muscles and tissues.
This helps in improving blood flow in veins and lymphatic drainage in the affected area. Before placing either pad or wrap, the person must first rest the body part for considerable time which is usually measured in hours.
Ice therapy machines are very simple to operate and can be used at home while watching T.V or sleeping. It is a perfect solution for relieving muscle fatigue, pain, stiffness of muscles, joint swelling and others. If you have an injury that needs extra help to recover quickly then this machine is the perfect solution.
Different Types of Cold Therapy Machines
These machines are divided into two different categories – motorized and non-motorized. However, both of them have similar components – water reservoir, water hoses and wraps/pads. Below, let’s have a detailed look on them…
1. Motorized Ice Therapy Machine
This type of machines contain an electrically-powered motor for pumping the ice or hot water to injured area through pad or wrap.
2. Non-Motorized Cold Therapy Machine
As the name suggests, these machine don’t have motor. They work on the basis of gravity of hand pump which enables the circulation of ice or heated water to the injured area.
How Does an Ice Therapy Machine Accelerate Healing Process?
These machines help you recover faster than ice packs because of the active compression as well as therapeutic cold. The consistent cold water circulation, constant temperature and added compression for deeper penetration are the factors of ice therapy machine that support healing process.
How Therapeutic Cold Supports Healing?
These machines improve healing process with coldness in the following 3 ways…
1. Numbs the Nerve Endings
The cold temperature will reduce the sensitivity of nerve endings. This slows down the communication between brain and body which makes you feel less pain in the injured area.
2. Slows Down the Cellular Metabolism
The therapeutic cold will reduce the cycle of cell’s death which is called as cellular metabolism. As the metabolism of cell damage reduces, the amount of repair required is decreased. This helps the muscles, ligaments, and tendons to survive the injury quickly.
3. Hunting Response Promotion
When our body is exposed to coldness, it initiates a hunting response which results in constriction and dilation of blood vessels. Hunting response is helpful in reducing cellular metabolism during vasoconstriction and it also helps in increasing the fresh oxygenated blood flow and nutrients to the injured area.
How Active Compression Improves Injury Recovery?
When pressure or compression is applied on the injury, it speed ups then healing process in 3 different ways…
1. Reduces Swelling
Applying pressure on the damaged areas prevents the swelling. The traditional compression bandages use the same principle. However, the compression provided by an ice therapy machine is much more effective.
2. Edema Prevention
Edema also known as build-up of excess fluid will slow down the recovery process. Applying compression prevents build-up of excess fluid by adding pressure on the injured area.
3. Fluid Circulation
While injury is healing, the tissues that are damaged will require a lot of nutrients and oxygen for repairing themselves. Active compression will pump cellular debris, lymph fluid and other unwanted fluids away from injury effectively. And simultaneously, it also supplies fresh nutrients and blood to the injured areas.
How To Choose A Cold Therapy Machine?
There are several brands selling ice therapy machines in the market. It can be tricky to choose the best among them. In order to help, we have crafted a buying guide for ice therapy machines. It helps you make an informed choice.
When it comes to size, the machine and therapy pad are the most important things to consider. The pads or wraps come in different sizes, so choose based on your coverage requirement. A large pad covers large areas of the body like back. Small pads are best suited for ankles, elbows or knees.
The machine has to compact as you can easily move it from one place to another without any problems. The bulky machine can be a bit messy and difficult to move it around.
The tubing of the machine is where the cold liquids are made to flow through the machine pad. A short tube will not let you move around easily while using the pad. A longer one can be helpful and comfortable. Check the material used to make the tube. Make sure it is made up of heavy-duty material. This prevents the tube from leaking and breaking. Insulation can be a valuable addition as it prevents cold from escaping which makes it better in relieving pain.
This a valuable addition because ice therapy machines tend to get very cold. In case, if you forget turning it off or sleep while wearing it then it can lead to some health risks. If the ice therapy machine has many auto-shutoff feature then you don’t have to worry about turning it off even if you lose track of time.
4. Fabric Pads
Make sure the pads provided with the machine as re-usable. If you invest in multiple fabric covering then you may end up losing money. Re-usable fabrics can be washed to prevent bacteria and dust build-up.
A higher quality ice therapy machine often delivers effective treatment which in turn leads to quick recovery. They often last longer than their cut-rate counterparts. They maintain and regulate therapeutic temperature every time.
Usually, the duration of cold therapy treatment is around 3 – 4 hours per day which lasts for 4 weeks of surgery or injury. In some cases, you can also opt for treatment all through the night. If the machine is making a loud noise then it can be difficult to sleep or concentrate on your tasks. So, make sure the ice therapy machine you choose makes relatively much lesser noise.
7. Wrap vs. Pad
We always recommend choosing a wrap instead of a pad as they cover more surface areas. It allows a better exposure and functional treatment. Wraps can deliver cold to above and below the penetration. It even reaches injured tissues more effectively. A wrap attachment is much more comfortable to wear than others.
You have to choose between them based on the injured area. If you have an injured joint then consider a wrap attachment. Because a wrap fits perfectly to the joint whereas the pad will not provide enough support or fitting.
8. Running time
An ice therapy machine should have a good running time. It is especially necessary when the injury requires treatment throughout the night.
Benefits of Ice Therapy Machines
- Ice therapy machines can be used on almost all parts of the body. However, you can also find machines specifically designed to use on certain areas like knees or ice therapy machines for shoulders.
- They are much better than regular ice packs. The ice therapy machines are developed in such a way that the coldness can move much deeper and provide relief from pain and swelling.
- In uneven areas like knees and elbows, it is difficult to cover the injury completely with ice packs. However, the pads or wraps of ice therapy machines are much versatile.
- You can adjust the temperature of the ice pad or wrap which reduce the risk of damaging the skin.
- Ice therapy machines have active compression which mimics the effect of natural muscle contractions. This helps to reduce the lymphatic drainage and swelling.
Common Injuries and Ailments that can be Treated Using Ice Therapy Machines
Using the mode of ice therapy machine, you can easily treat some common ailments which are mentioned below.
According to Gordin Medical Centre, ice cold temperature helps to narrow the blood vessels which reduce the blood flow to the injured area leading to reduced swelling. Medically this process is referred to as vasoconstriction.
Swelling is actually harmful to us because it restricts the motion range, discomfort, and pain. An increases amount of blood in the injured tissues can also lead to pain. Swelling occurs within 72 hours of injury. So, in this time, the icing on the injured area can thwart the blood flow and relieve pain as well as discomfort.
2. Muscle Spams
Ice therapy is one of the best things to reduce muscle spasms. They can be caused as a result of body’s reaction to pain. As icing relieves pain, this will in turn, result in the reduction of muscle spasms as well.
3. Runner’s Knee
Runner’s knee generally refers to the pain that occurs surrounding or within the patella tendon or kneecap. This problem is usually caused by consistent running or jogging. In this routine, the knee is subjected a lot of stress and strain.Popping, swelling, and grinding are few discomforts caused by runner’s knee. Placing ice on the knee for 30 minutes is likely to reduce pain and muscle spasms.
4. Healing Tendonitis
Tendonitis is a common condition which is usually occurred by physical activity like intense exercise or gardening. Tendonitis can be caused by any repetitive activity that leads to stress in a particular area. An irritation or inflammation are the main reasons for this problem. As already discussed, swelling can be reduced and healing can be improved with icing therapy.
5. After Surgery Recovery
Icing therapy is one of the best conventional methods to recover from surgery. During a surgery, the body undergoes a lot of stress and trauma. As a protective measure, it will respond with a swelling. Icing will restrict the blood vessels and blood flow to provide quick relief. Most of the surgeons suggest ice therapy machines to patients after surgery for at least next 24 hours.
6. Arthritis Relief
Most of the physicians suggest ice cold therapy for people suffering from arthritis. It will dull the nerve endings where the pain starts. The swelling will also be reduced by constricting the blood vessels.
How to Use Ice Therapy Machine?
Below, we have provided a detailed step by step instructions on how to use cold therapy machine.
Normally, a cold therapy machine contains 3 parts – reservoir, wall plug and therapy pad/wrap. Setting up the reservoir is pretty easy. All you have to do is add large pieces or cubed ice into the reservoir first. Now add cold water on top of it. The setup of reservoir can be different based on the manufacturers but the principle is pretty much same – you have to add as much ice as possible while still there is enough space for adding water that is required for pumping. Make sure to avoid running the machine dry as it can damage it completely.
2. Attaching the Cold Wrap/Pad
You have to connect the wrap or pads to the machine using a simple press fit tube or snap. It is just as simple as snapping the pad to pump line. Most of the pads/wraps can be secured either with straps, Velcro, ace bandages or a combination of these. For proper securing instructions, it is better to have a look at the manual provided by the manufacturer.
Before turning the machine on, make sure the pads are secured well. If not then there will be a leakage. In some situations, especially in hot weather, some condensation is unavoidable. But if you have a little moisture that is collecting on the pad then it is condensation but not a leak. Before using the machine, make sure to check the hoses and pads/wraps for any holes as it can lead to a leakage.
Note: Before placing the wrap on the injured area, make sure to keep an insulator (sock, towel or t-shirt) between them to prevent frost bite.
3. Risk and Management
Once you set up reservoir, connect the wrap to hose and placed an insulator between the injury and pad, you are ready to start the ice therapy machine. Place the plug in socket and switch on the device. Make sure the electrical cord is not wet before plugging as it is not waterproof. Once you switch on the machine, cold water is pumped through the cold therapy unit to the injured areas. Typically, you can use this machine for around 3 – 4 hours. However, you can also use it as per the prescription by the doctor.
Some people are more prone to cold so they can sustain an injury because of the sensitive skin. So, it is better to check the skin once in a while during the therapy to make sure you are not experiencing any symptoms related to frost bite. However, if the advantages of this machine have any adverse effects on your sensitive skin or have any personal risks then it is better to avoid using it.
4. After completing therapy
Once the therapy is completed, switch-off and unplug it. Now, remove the pad from the injured area and hold it up above the machine for few minutes so that the water drains back. Take the cold therapy machine to a sink and disconnect the pad. Make sure to take care so that water doesn’t get on the electrical wiring. Squeeze the pad thoroughly to remove all the water. Once the water is drained, keep it aside and empty the reservoir. Using paper towel or cloth, remove all the remaining water to prevent bacteria or mold growth.
If in case, your ice therapy machine has a filter then clean it before and after using it. As pad and reservoir are not waterproof, make sure the water doesn’t come in contact with electrical components. Let the components air out completely before storing them. Proper care and maintenance will make sure the machine lasts long.
- When using an ice therapy machine, there is always a risk of skin damage. Make sure to inspect the skin after minutes of turning on the machine. Again after 1 – 2 hours just to make sure there is no damage.
- For preventing the risk of injury, make sure to keep a layer of insulation between the skin and pad especially if your machine is kept for longer than 20 minutes.
- Never use the coldest setting. Prolonged usage at such temperatures can cause freezer burn which can be harmful and doesn’t help in speeding up the recovery.
- Ice therapy machines can cause blood pressure alterations. So, make sure to carefully monitor the levels. If you observe any change, discontinue using the machine.
- Elderly patients don’t have the capability of heat conservation so it may cause blood vessel constriction and tissue damage.
- Always make sure to consult a medical professional before using ice therapy machines just to stay away from any risks or adverse side effects.
Ice therapy machines have become a great source of a fast healing process. It is relatively a very good alternative to traditional alternatives. Before purchasing the ice therapy machine make sure to go through the buying guide to choose the right as per your requirements. Do not fall for the fake and fraudulent advertisements, research well and make an informed choice.
As per our experts, “Ossur Cold Rush” is the highly recommended one. Its features and quality deserve the chance of being first on our list.
Further, if you have any questions regarding the ice therapy machines, write to us in the comment section below. Our experts will get back to you as early as possible. If you find this article to be informative then share it with your friends and family.