For individuals into sports, fitness enthusiasts, and those that engage in physical activities, musculoskeletal injuries are common. Can using ice tape help during the initial or acute phase of injury decrease inflammation and swelling to expedite recovery and return to activities sooner?
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After a musculoskeletal injury, individuals are recommended to follow the R.I.C.E. method to help reduce swelling and inflammation. R.I.C.E. is the acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. (Michigan Medicine. University of Michigan. 2023) The cold helps to decrease pain, lower tissue temperature, and decrease swelling around the site of the injury. By controlling the inflammation with ice and compression early after injury, individuals can maintain the appropriate range of motion and mobility around the injured body part. (Jon E. Block. 2010) There are different ways to apply ice to an injury.
- Store-bought ice bags and cold packs.
- Soaking the injured body part in a cold whirlpool or tub.
- Making reusable ice packs.
- A compression bandage can be used together with the ice.
Ice Tape is a compression bandage that provides cold therapy all at once. After an injury, applying it can help decrease the pain and swelling during the acute inflammatory phase of healing. (Matthew J. Kraeutler et al., 2015)
How The Tape Works
The tape is a flexible bandage that is infused with therapeutic cooling gel. When applied to an injured body part and exposed to air, the gel activates, generating a cold sensation around the area. The therapeutic medicinal effect can last five to six hours. Combined with a flexible bandage, it provides ice therapy and compression. The ice tape can be used straight out of the package but can also be stored in the refrigerator to increase the cold effect. Depending on the maker’s instructions, the tape should not be stored in the freezer as this can make it too hard to wrap around the injured area.
The benefits include the following:
Easy to Use
- The product is easy to use.
- Take out the tape, and start wrapping it around the injured body part.
Fasteners Not Required
- The wrap sticks to itself, so the tape stays in place without using clips or fasteners.
Easy to Cut
- The standard roll is 48 inches long by 2 inches wide.
- Most injuries require enough to wrap around the injured area.
- Scissors cut the exact amount needed, and store the rest in the resealable bag.
- After 15 to 20 minutes of application, the product can be easily removed, rolled up, stored in the bag, and used again.
- The tape can be used multiple times.
- The tape begins to lose its cooling quality after several uses.
- The tape does not need to be placed in a cooler when traveling.
- It is easily portable and perfect for a quick ice and compression application immediately after an injury.
- It can decrease pain and inflammation and kept at the workplace.
A few disadvantages include the following:
- The gel on the flexible wrap can have a medicine odor.
- It is not quite as powerful smelling as pain creams, but the chemical odor could bother some individuals.
Might Not Be Cold Enough
- The tape works for immediate pain relief and inflammation, but it may not get cold enough for the user when applied right from the package at room temperature.
- However, it can be placed in a refrigerator to increase the coldness and may provide a more therapeutic cooling effect, especially for those dealing with tendinitis or bursitis.
Stickiness Could Be Distracting
- The tape could be a bit sticky for some.
- This sticky factor can be a minor annoyance.
- However, it just feels sticky when being applied.
- A couple of flecks of the gel may get left behind when removed.
- The ice tape can also stick to clothing.
For individuals looking for a quick, on-the-go cooling therapy for injured or aching body parts, ice tape may be an option. It could be good to have on hand to provide cooling compression if a minor injury occurs while participating in athletics or physical activities and relief for overuse or repetitive strain injuries.
Treating Ankle Sprains
Michigan Medicine. University of Michigan. Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE).
Block J. E. (2010). Cold and compression in the management of musculoskeletal injuries and orthopedic operative procedures: a narrative review. Open access journal of sports medicine, 1, 105–113. doi.org/10.2147/oajsm.s11102
Kraeutler, M. J., Reynolds, K. A., Long, C., & McCarty, E. C. (2015). Compressive cryotherapy versus ice-a prospective, randomized study on postoperative pain in patients undergoing arthroscopic rotator cuff repair or subacromial decompression. Journal of shoulder and elbow surgery, 24(6), 854–859. doi.org/10.1016/j.jse.2015.02.004
The information herein on "The Benefits of Applying Ice Tape for Musculoskeletal Injuries" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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