Cryotherapy with dynamic intermittent compression for analgesia after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. Preliminary study

Orthop Traumatol Surg Res. 2014 May;100(3):309-12. doi: 10.1016/j.otsr.2013.12.019. Epub 2014 Mar 25.


Background: Cryotherapy is a useful adjunctive analgesic measure in patients with postoperative pain following anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery. Either static permanent compression or dynamic intermittent compression can be added to increase the analgesic effect of cryotherapy. Our objective was to compare the efficacy of these two compression modalities combined with cryotherapy in relieving postoperative pain and restoring range of knee motion after ligament reconstruction surgery.

Hypothesis: When combined with cryotherapy, a dynamic and intermittent compression is associated with decreased analgesic drug requirements, less postoperative pain, and better range of knee motion compared to static compression.

Materials and methods: We conducted a case-control study of consecutive patients who underwent anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction at a single institution over a 3-month period. Both groups received the same analgesic drug protocol. One group was managed with cryotherapy and dynamic intermittent compression (Game Ready(®)) and the other with cryotherapy and static compression (IceBand(®)).

Results: Of 39 patients, 20 received dynamic and 19 static compression. In the post-anaesthesia recovery unit, the mean visual analogue scale (VAS) pain score was 2.4 (range, 0-6) with dynamic compression and 2.7 (0-7) with static compression (P=0.3); corresponding values were 1.85 (0-9) vs. 3 (0-8) (P=0.16) after 6 hours and 0.6 (0-3) vs. 1.14 (0-3) (P=0.12) at discharge. The cumulative mean tramadol dose per patient was 57.5mg (0-200mg) with dynamic compression and 128.6 mg (0-250 mg) with static compression (P=0.023); corresponding values for morphine were 0mg vs. 1.14 mg (0-8 mg) (P<0.05). Mean range of knee flexion at discharge was 90.5° (80°-100°) with dynamic compression and 84.5° (75°-90°) with static compression (P=0.0015).

Conclusion: Dynamic intermittent compression combined with cryotherapy decreases analgesic drug requirements after ACL reconstruction and improves the postoperative recovery of range of knee motion.

Level of evidence: Level III, case-control study.

Keywords: ACL reconstruction; Analgesia; Cryotherapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analgesia / methods*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction*
  • Cryotherapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intermittent Pneumatic Compression Devices*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Pain, Postoperative / therapy*
  • Postoperative Care / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult