Cold temperature therapy has historically been used to reduce swelling, relieve pain, and heal tissue after orthopedic injuries and surgeries. Ice therapy machines work better than ice packs because the temperature can be better controlled, and the machines keep providing cold much longer. Cold or ice therapy machines circulate chilled water through a flexible pad that wraps around the knee or other joint. The system includes a cooling tank, pump, and a detachable hose leading to the pad.

To use an ice machine to treat knee injuries or help recovery from knee replacement surgery, patients fill the tank with water and ice or frozen bottles of water and wrap the pad around their knee. When the machine is plug in and turned on, the chilled water is pumped through the hose and pad to administer therapeutic cold to the treatment site.

The cold numbs the nerves, preventing them from communicating pain signals to the brain. In response, the brain reduces the blood flow to the area which allows the body to begin healing the area. The system reduces inflammation, reduces swelling, and relieves pain. The cold can also reduce muscles spasms, and soreness from overuse or injury. If you have a fracture, or joint pain, a cold therapy machine will reduce the discomfort.

How Long Should You Use an Ice Therapy Machine?

How often you should use an ice therapy machine will depend on why you are using it. For injuries, for example, experts recommend using cold therapy for 10 to 20 minutes at a time with an hour between uses. You can use a polar care ice machine or ice packs for as many days as you need to for pain relief.

When using a cold therapy machine after knee surgery, knee replacement, or other orthopedic procedures, it’s best to carefully follow your doctor’s or physical therapist’s instructions. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, you can expect swelling after knee replacement or other surgery for between three and six months.

To benefit from cold therapy, you need to use it daily until your recovery. Experts recommend using post-surgical ice machine three or four times per day for the first week. You can then switch to alternating between heat and ice to reduce soreness and swelling, according to physical therapy instructions.

#1) Ossur Cold Rush Therapy Machine

ossur cold rush therapy machine

The Ossur Cold Rush Therapy Machine has the highest ice to water ratio in the industry which means less heat is transferred from the working motor. Everything stays cooler longer in the lightweight cooler with insulated walls, built-in handle, and a locking top.

Ossur Cold Rush Therapy Machine Features

• The ergonomic, adjustable, contoured large pad with elastic straps fits accurately to you knee or shoulder and provides the cold and compression needed for pain relief and therapy.

• The lightweight, compact unit weighs only 4.6 lbs. so it’s easy to transport.

• The brushless, quiet motor makes only 30 decibels of sound so you can rest during use.

• The insulated tubing provides a strong flow for consistent cold temperature.

• The adjustable flow knob with four settings allows you to change the flow and the temperature.

The Ossur Cold Rush Therapy Machine is great because it’s high ice to water ratio, keeps the treatment pad cold longer. Together with a highly insulated container and tubing, the system provides excellent cryotherapy for up to six hours.

#2) Polar Active Ice 3.0 Cold Therapy Ice Machine System with Programmable Timer

polar active ice cold therapy ice machine

The Polar Active Ice 3.0 has a unique, patent pending, programable timer that can be set for ten-minute intervals for up to 990 minutes for hours of customized cold therapy and pain relief after knee surgery. Polar Products is an American company and manufacturing, distribution, and customer service departments are all in Ohio, so service and communication is easy for buyers.

Features

• Ergonomic knew/joint pad provides the compression recommended by doctors and fits comfortably with elastic, Velcro secured bands.

• The ice bucket unit is light weight and holds 6 frozen water bottles rather than ice. There’s no melting ice to deal with. There’s also a larger, 16-quart size available.

• The programable timer makes treatment safer while resting or sleeping because you can set it to turn on and off for ten minutes at a time, overnight.

• The quick connect-disconnect feature and elastic and Velcro bands make fitting the pad and setting up for therapy sessions easy

The Polar Active Ice 3.0 is great because of its use of bottles rather than ice cubes, and because of its programable timer. The Polar Products Company is in the United States. Their products are designed, manufactured, distributed, and serviced in Ohio, so wait time is minimal, and communications easy.

#3) COOLMAN Cold Therapy System

coolman cold therapy system

Features

The Coolman Cold Therapy System has a transparent bucket which makes filling accurately and keeping track of ice melt easier. The pump has 5 flow-rate settings to provide a choice of water temperatures from 41 degrees to 68 degrees, for more comfortable and affective therapy and pain relief.

• The extremely flexible universal pad, made from elastic material, provides good compression, and works well, not only for post knee replacement recovery but for shoulder, elbow, hip, leg, or arm treatment.

• The kit comes with a 5.8-foot power cord and a 5-foot insulated flow tube for easier treatment setup, and extra backup connectors for your convenience.

• The high quality, low noise, diaphragm pump can be set on 5 modes, or flow rates so you can get the pad to a comfortable temperature. Regular ice packs can be too cold, and cold compresses not cold enough.

• The company offers a one-year warranty, which is longer than many other companies offer.

• The unit runs for up to 30 minutes at a time before automatically shutting off for safety. It easily starts again with a button push.

The COOLMAN Cold Therapy system is great because the ice container is transparent so you can keep track of the ice melt. It also has a larger universal pad you can use for any body part that needs treatment after surgery or for pain relief.

#4) Cryotherapy - Circulating Personal Cold Water Therapy Ice Machine

cryotherapy circulating personal cold water therapy ice machine

The Cryotherapy Ice Machine for knee injuries and post-surgery treatment is extremely easy to transport. The ice bucket is compact and has an integrated handle for easy travel. It has an extra-large 11” x 11” universal pad you can use anywhere to reduce swelling and relieve pain after surgery or because of injury.

Features

• The base ice container is well marked to make it easy to fill and maintain the level between minimum and maximum levels. The secure snap and clip mechanism prevents leaks.

• The timer gives you a choice of session lengths at 15-minute intervals with a maximum of 60 minutes. Each fill of water and ice lasts up to 5 hrs.

• The kit comes with an extra-long insulated tube.

• The universal pad and 3” x 39” strap with Velcro closures, allows for an excellent fit on any body part from hip to knee. There are other pads designed for other therapy uses also available.

• The unit is compact and easy to carry.

The Cryotherapy Circulating Personal Cold Water Therapy Ice Machine is great because it’s compact and the closing mechanism prevents leaks if you move the container from room to room.

#5) Cold Therapy Machine — Cryotherapy Freeze Kit System

cold therapy machine cryotherapy freeze kit system

The Cold Therapy- Cryotherapy Freeze Kit System by PhysioNatural has a great, easy-read monitor which makes tracking the timer and temperature simple. The superior motor provides high flow for even, consistent temperatures.

Features

• Tough, durable construction and a great motor makes this machine last.

• The kit comes with a wearable, adjustable knee pad made of dimpled material that allows even distribution of the cold water for therapy. There are three built-in straps to fit the pad and provide compression.

• The pad can be used for elbows, too, but there are various other pads available for hip, shoulder, back, etc.

• The digital timer can be set to shut off at 20, 40, or 60 minutes.

• The high-flow motor is whisper quiet to let you rest, and it keeps the temperature consistent.

The Cold Therapy Machine by PhysioNatural is great because the monitor is easy to read, and the pads are designed specifically for each body part, the knee for post-surgical use or for other parts of your body after surgery or to relieve swelling and pain from injuries.

#6) NEHOO Cold Therapy System

nehoo cold therapy system

The NEHOO Cold Therapy System has a low noise motor with three different flow rates which are indicate by three different light colors on the simple control panel. Temperatures from the various flow rates range from a low of 39 degrees up to 59 degrees.

Features

• The set has a large universal size pad good for knees, elbows, shoulders, hips, back, and ankles. The elastic bandages are soft and comfortable and provide compression.

• With 7 one-quart frozen water bottles, the machine provides cool therapy all day or all night.

• The simple control panel makes setting the flow easy. Each of the three flow rates, providing three levels of temperature, has a different light color.

• Temperatures range from 39 degrees to 59 degrees, allowing your body breaks from extreme cold.

• Time settings offer continuous flow for 30, 60, 90 or 120 minutes.

• The double-wall insulated bucket keeps the quart water bottles cold for hours.

The NEHOO Cold Therapy System is great because of the simple control panel and three flow settings with three light colors on the panel. Each of the three flow rates provides a different level of cold for therapy.

#7) Brace Direct Blue Ice Cold Therapy Circulation Machine

brace direct blue ice cold therapy circulation machine

Brace Direct Blue Ice Cold Therapy Circulation Machine has a large ergonomic universal pad that fits back, hip, knees, shoulders, and ankles. The company provides video instructions on how to fit the unique shape to the part of the body needing treatment. If the video isn’t helpful enough, they provide one-on-one virtual fitting sessions with a team member.

Brace Direct Blue Ice Cold Therapy Features

• Large 9-quart, leak proof, insulated cold box provides up to 12 hours of cold therapy.

• The easy-connect couplings make set-up easy.

• The brushless motor is quiet so you can use it at night.

• The large, flexible universal pad has a unique shape that contours to all the body parts that might need cold therapy.

• The intuitive digital display shows temperature and timer.

• The timer can be set for 20, 40, or 60 minutes.

The Brace Direct Blue Ice Cold Therapy Circulation Machine is great because of the unique universal pad that provides a great fit for knees and all the other body parts that need cold therapy after surgery, strain, or injury. A provided video helps you fit the pad correctly to the knee, elbow, or hip, and team members are available to help if you need them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Better to Get a Polar Therapy Machine With a Pad Specific to Your Knee After Surgery or One With a Universal Pad?

Some cold therapy kits come with a smaller pad specifically designed for your knee. Others have a larger pad you can use for several purposes. The first type is simple to use for your knee, but getting a universal pad, means you and other family members will be able to make use of the machine long after your knee is healed.

How Important Is a Timer on an Ice Machine After Knee Surgery?

The advantage to having a timer is you can follow any after-surgery instructions more easily and exactly. Doctors and physical therapists will likely give you specific amounts of time for applying cold to your knee. You can also set the timer to cycle on and off when you sleep or rest to keep swelling down.

Should You Change Temperatures While Using a Post-surgery Ice Machine?

Because cold can become uncomfortable to your skin, raising the temperature slightly can relieve that discomfort while the machine continues to reduce swelling in your knee after surgery. A slightly warmer temperature may help you tolerate your ice therapy for longer periods.