Cold Therapy for the Foot
If you have found yourself with a foot injury, you understand just how painful and inconvenient they can be. Luckily, there is one treatment that has been shown to be beneficial for healing foot injuries: Cold Therapy.
Cold therapy involves the application of ice to the affected area. When applying cold therapy, you can use an ice pack or other methods such as a cold therapy machine. Cold therapy is a good way of reducing swelling and inflammation. When you have acute injuries, a sprain, or plantar fasciitis, applying cold therapy is the best way to manage the pain and the swelling and reduce the recuperation time.
The major foot injuries that require cold therapy include; plantar fasciitis, arthritis, or other acute injuries like sprains and twists. To understand how cold therapy works on your foot, let's take a look at plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is a painful ailment that occurs when a thick tissue running from your toes to heels becomes inflamed. This condition is prevalent in athletes. People who suffer from this condition wake up most mornings in a lot of pain since the muscles are tense.
The most commonly recommended method is the RICE method to take care of such immense pain and swelling. This stands for;
- R- Rest. Further activity on your injured foot could result in more damage. The best way to ensure your foot heals is by giving it some time off.
- I- Ice. Once you realize you have an injury, ensure you start icing it as soon as possible. The first forty-eight hours are ideal for helping soothe pain and prevent swelling. Ice your foot during the day for fifteen to twenty minutes.
- C- Compression. If you wrap up your foot with a bandage, it can help prevent further swelling through constricting blood flow. Compression can help fasten recovery, but you need to tie it just enough to compress your foot but not too much to cut off blood flow.
- E- Elevation. Elevate your foot and ankle above your heart. It will help get gravity on your side and help bring down the swelling. Elevation also relieves swelling pain and fastens the healing process. Elevation also helps clean and healthy blood to reach your foot and help heal the affected area.
Benefits of cold therapy for the foot
- Once you ice the affected area, the cold shrinks the blood vessels beneath the skin, which reduces blood flow to the affected area.
- Icing also decreases swelling alongside the inflammatory proteins called cytokines which increase inflammation.
- Icing also numbs the nerve endings beneath the skin, which alleviates pain.
The RICE method is excellent for acute injuries and when experiencing too much swelling. When practicing cold therapy, you should ensure that you place a cloth between the ice and your skin. If you don't keep any barrier between the two, it can result in frostbite.
When to Ice Your Foot
After an injury, it is best to start applying cold therapy to your foot in the first 48 hours. These first hours are when most of the inflammation happens, which could later prolong the amount of time it takes for you to recover. Whatever cold therapy method you are using, whether an ice pack or a cold therapy unit, it is best to apply it at least three times a day. Of course, this means you can do it more times in a day, especially if under a lot of pain.
Ideally, you can apply cold therapy for ten minutes every hour in the first seventy-two hours of your injury. After that, you can now tone it up to 15-20 minutes at a time three times a day. Once in the morning, in the late afternoon, and before bed. The last cold therapy you do before bed should be at least one hour before you go to sleep. You should also apply cold therapy after you've done vigorous exercise.
Cold therapy is not only good for people with arthritis and plantar fasciitis. It's also an excellent remedy for people with metatarsalgia. Metatarsalgia is any pain found in the ball of the foot.
Top Cold Therapy Units for the Foot
Breg Polar Care Wave
With two key components of the R.I.C.E method being ice and compression, finding an option that provides both is ideal. The Breg Polar Care Wave combines cold therapy with active compression to help reduce swelling and improve recovery time. It has an option for a designated foot pad making it one of the top choices when you’re looking for cold therapy for the foot.
Learn more here.
Ossur Cold Rush
With the quietest motor and the highest ice-to-water ratio on the market, the Ossur Cold Rush Cold Therapy Unit provides up to 6 hours of targeted cold therapy for the foot. Weighing in at only 4.6 lbs it is easy to take around but does also come in a compact version which makes it great for travel.
Learn more here.
Aircast Cryo Cuff IC Cooler
Another cold therapy machine with added compression, the IC Cooler runs with 30 seconds of cold therapy, followed by 30 seconds of compression. It offers a designated foot and ankle pad to provide effective cold therapy. It also comes in a Gravity version which does not require any power for use.
Learn more here.
Cold therapy for the foot is a great way to prevent inflammation, reduce swelling, and reduce the time it takes to heal. Once you hurt your foot, not only should you apply cold therapy, but you should also follow the RICE method to ensure you recover as quickly as possible.
As always, be sure to consult with your doctor before beginning any new medical treatment.