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The Influence of Cold and Compression on Lymph Flow at the Ankle

Meeusan Romain P.T. Ph.D.; Veen, Philip van der P.T.; Joos, Erika M.D.; Roeykens, Johan P.T.; Bossuyt, Axel M.D. Ph.D.; Meieleir, Kenny De M.D. Ph.D.
Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: October 1998


To investigate the effects of cold application with different temperatures on lymph flow in healthy persons and to examine the effects of the combination of cold and compression on lymph vessels.


Thirty-nine healthy persons were included in the study, and each served as his or her own control. Intervention: Water bags (1|Mo, 15|Mo, and 32|Mo) with or without 25 mm Hg pressure were applied to the experimental legs for 30 minutes. Cold, pressure, or both were administered by an Aircast-Cryo-cuff (Aircast Europe GMBH, Rosenheim, Germany).

Main Outcome Measures

Skin temperature was measured with a TESTO 901 (Testoterm GMBH, Leuven, Belgium) precision thermometer. Lymph flow was recorded continuously using lymphoscintigraphy. MANOVA with repeated measures was used for data analysis.


As expected, skin temperature dropped relative to the temperature of the water. The migration of the tracer was comparable in both ankles during the first 30 minutes of the experiment (rest). When the water bag was applied, lymph flow increased significantly (p >0.01). The application of water of 1|MoC without pressure influenced lymph evacuation significantly differently from the other temperatures. The application of pressure of 25 mm Hg influenced lymph evacuation significantly at 1|MoC and 32|MoC.


These results indicate that lymph evacuation at the ankle is influenced significantly when cold water is applied with or without pressure. When pressure is added to the application of water of 32|MoC, lymph flow will also increase significantly, indicating the importance of pressure in lymph evacuation.

© 1998 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.