The Effects on Knee Swelling, Range of Motion and Pain using a Commercially Available Hot/Cold Contrast Device in a Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine Setting.

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The Effects on Knee Swelling, Range of Motion and Pain using a Commercially Available Hot/Cold Contrast Device in a Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine Setting.

Wilk KE, Mangine RE, Tersakjs J, Hasselford K.



Background and Purpose: Contrast therapy consists of alternating thermotherapy and cryotherapy repeatedly to assist in the management of acute, subacute, and chronic musculoskeletal conditions. This has been utilized for several decades with good to excellent subjective and objective results reported for patients with swelling (acute to chronic), pain, and loss of motion. Typically, the intervention is performed by either the use of a hot and cold whirlpool or by applying hot and cold packs which can be very time consuming and labor intensive. The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of a single treatment of the Hyperice X system in reducing knee joint pain, swelling and stiffness in active patients and young injured athletes. A secondary purpose was to measure patient satisfaction with the use of the device.

Subjects: Fifty subjects (34 males and 16 females) with a mean age of 22.2 +/- 4.9 yrs (ranging from 17 to 45 yrs of age) were recruited. Subjects presented with various types of knee pain, both non-operative and operative, secondary to ligamentous, tendinous, cartilage, muscle, and/or meniscus pathology. The subjects were in various stages of rehabilitation with six in the acute stage, 24 in subacute stage, and 20 in the chronic stage. The subjects participated in a variety of different sports at various levels of competition ranging from recreational to professional.

Methods: Subjects were recruited from one of two centers: an athletic training room or an outpatient sports medicine rehabilitation center. They were evaluated for baseline pain using the visual analog scale (VAS),verbal patient satisfaction on a scale of 1-10, verbal assessment of knee tightness, knee circumference, and knee flexion range of motion. The Hyperice X was applied to the knee utilizing the contrast setting for a total of 18 minutes with three six-minute cycles, each consisting of three minutes of heat therapy and three minutes of cold therapy. The contrast therapy was applied at the initiation of the physical therapy session and all subjective and objective measures were repeated immediately post contrast treatment.

Results: The VAS scores significantly improved following the treatment session with the mean score pretreatment of 2.59 and following the treatment of 1.68. Knee circumference improved for mid patella and 5 cm below mid patella, but no significant improvement was noted at the 5 cm above the patella region. Knee flexion improved from 130 degrees pre-treatment to 134 degrees post treatment. Knee extension improved from 2.72 degrees of hyperextension to 3.44 degrees, both of which were statistically significant(p<.001).

Conclusion: Contrast therapy utilizing the Hyperice X device demonstrated effectiveness in affecting pain reduction, swelling, and knee ROM. A commercially available device providing contrast therapy, may enhance outcomes in athletes after even a single treatment. In addition, the device was found to be easy to use, clinically practical, and demonstrated very high subjective patient satisfaction.

Level of Evidence: Level 3