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Having an anterior cruciate ligament injury often requires reconstructive surgery. During the recovery period, it’s a great idea to attend a rehabilitation program. Cold treatment is great therapy for post-ACL surgery. It has come a long way since the past when ice packs were the only option to help with pain and swelling. New therapy combines cryotherapy with intermittent compression in a spacesuit designed to deliver intermittent pneumatic compression and adjustable cold therapy. This new type of therapy is convenient, portable, and easy to use. Here are some ways cold therapy can help speed up the recovery period after ACL surgery.
- It decreases pain. Cold therapy provides an analgesic effect due to decreasing production of pain mediators and slowing down nerve pain signals. Previous forms of cold therapy used ice packs or circulating water, which was messy and ineffective. But today’s cold therapy allows cold water to cycle through a form-fitting wrap designed for the knee joint, which is convenient to use and comfortable to wear. This way, the knee is receiving pain relief on a regular basis.
- It decreases swelling. If you have knee surgery, you’re going to experience swelling at some point. When your body undergoes surgery, blood and other fluids rush in while the body tries to heal itself. Swelling can slow down recovery time, so it’s important to reduce this as much as possible. Use cryotherapy and a compression system to minimize swelling.
- It increases lymphatic drainage. Restoring normal lymphatic flow is essential for the healing process to move from the acute phase to the repair stage. A knee wrap can provide intermittent pneumatic compression and your chances of recovering quickly are increased even more so when the knee wrap is combined with cold therapy.
- It stimulates tissue healing. Intermittent pneumatic compression can enhance connective tissue healing. This is because your knee is receiving better blood flow and blood vein pressure is reduced, so tissues repair themselves faster.
- It lowers narcotic use. After surgery, you’ll most likely be prescribed a painkiller, such as Vicodin. Pain medication can cause drowsiness and a sense of disconnection, which can prevent you from going back to your daily routine you established before surgery. With cryotherapy and intermittent compression, however, you can stop taking your pain meds much sooner. In fact, some patients haven’t had to use pain medication at all.