A randomized prospective study to assess the efficacy of two cold-therapy treatments following carpal tunnel release

J Hand Ther. 2001 Jul-Sep;14(3):208-15. doi: 10.1016/s0894-1130(01)80055-7.


A prospective randomized study was performed comparing the efficacy of controlled cold therapy (CCT) with the efficacy of ice therapy in the postoperative treatment of 72 patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. Immediately after surgery, patients applied either a temperature-controlled cooling blanket (CCT) or a standard ice pack over their surgical dressings. Pain was assessed by visual analog scale and swelling by wrist circumference preoperatively, immediately after surgery, and on postoperative day 3. Patients kept log books of daily treatment times. Narcotic use (of Vicodin ES) was determined by pill count at day 3 and by daily log book recordings. Patients who used CCT showed significantly greater reduction in pain, edema (wrist circumference), and narcotic use at postoperative day 3 than did those using ice therapy. This study indicates that after carpal tunnel surgery, the use of CCT, compared with traditional ice therapy, provides patients with greater comfort and lessens the need for narcotics.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / rehabilitation*
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / surgery*
  • Cryotherapy / instrumentation
  • Cryotherapy / methods*
  • Edema / etiology
  • Edema / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy
  • Pain, Postoperative / etiology
  • Pain, Postoperative / therapy*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Analgesics, Opioid