Changes in local blood volume during cold gel pack application to traumatized ankles

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1994 Apr;19(4):197-9. doi: 10.2519/jospt.1994.19.4.197.


Whether application of a cold modality following soft tissue trauma causes reactive vasodilation causes reactive vasodilation is an important clinical question since one goal of using a cold modality is to limit edema formation. The purpose of this study was to measure change in local blood volume during application of a cold gel pack following inversion sprain of the ankle. Fifteen volunteers participated as subjects (age range: 18-46 years, mean age: 22.2 years). A bilateral tetrapolar impedance plethysmograph was used with venous occlusion to measure the change in local limb volume at the ankle over a 20-minute period during two conditions: at rest and with cold gel pack application. A significant reduction in local blood volume occurred during cold gel pack application compared with rest. A significant vasodilation response was not observed. The lack of vasodilation response lends support to the clinical use of a cold gel pack following soft tissue trauma when applied to the ankle for a period of up to 20 minutes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ankle Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Ankle Injuries / therapy*
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Blood Volume / physiology*
  • Cryotherapy / instrumentation*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plethysmography, Impedance
  • Rest / physiology
  • Sprains and Strains / physiopathology*
  • Sprains and Strains / therapy*
  • Vasodilation