After orthopedic and joint surgeries, it’s common to develop tissue inflammation and pain. Although it is anecdoctecly recognised that cold thermotherapy helps to decrease inflammatory signs, some authors decided to investigate the actual effect of cold compression.
Drygas et. al (2011) concluded that performing local cold compression within the first 24 hours after performing TPLO in dogs is well tolerated by the animals and significantly reduces the signs of pain, limb swelling and claudication exhibited in the first phase of surgical recovery. It also increased the range of knee movements in the first 24 hours.
Rexing et. al (2010) compared the efficiency of four methods in reducing tissue swelling after correction of cranial cruciate ligament rupture in dogs. They concluded that applying cold compression alone or associated with Robert-Jones dressing is significantly more effective at reducing tissue swelling within the first 72 hours after surgery than just a Robert-Jones dressing.
Millard et. al (2013) investigated tissue temperature changes after cold compression for 5, 10 and 20 minutes. They found that 5 minutes of cold compression only cooled tissues to 0.5cm depth, requiring 10 to 20 minutes of compression to cool the tissues to 1.5cm depth. The maximum cooling at 1cm depth was reached at 20 minutes.
To assist in the recovery of your post-surgical cases, Blue recommends always performing 20-minute cycles of cold compression in the first 24 to 72 hours after the intervention.