There is limited data and research on the effects of cryotherapy on total knee replacements. Eleven studies, including one meta-analysis, have been reviewed on the effects continuous cold flow therapy has on blood loss, pain, swelling, and range of motion of the operative knee versus an ice bag or the use of traditional narcotics. Six of the studies showed significantly lower pain scores in the cold compression group than in a control group, including epidural analgesia, Robert Jones bandage, narcotic administration, and crushed ice. Overall, most studies noted no difference in range of motion of the operative knee, a decrease in swelling, and a decrease in blood loss with the cold compression. Although the use of cryotherapy may not be a statistically effective modality, it may, however, provide benefits for patients undergoing a total knee replacement.
Summer E. Markert, MS, RN, CRNP, Johns Hopkins, N. Wolfe Street, Baltimore, Maryland.