Effective pain management and prevention of edema are goals for orthopaedic patients after injury and after surgery. Cryotherapy is the use of cold to decrease swelling and pain when tissue is damaged secondary to trauma or surgery. Although cryotherapy has been used for years by some practitioners to achieve these goals, it is gaining wider acceptance in sports medicine for acute and postoperative care. Newer techniques of application have broadened its use for postoperative care. This article reviews the physiology of cold, basic principles of cryotherapy, various techniques of cold application, nursing assessment and care, and patient teaching for a patient with cryotherapy.
© 1994 National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses