We use an ice compression unit called Game Ready around a painful area to reduce pain by blocking pain fibers as well as reduce swelling by increasing lymphatic flow. The combination of pain relief and reduction of swelling will help to regain range of motion in a post-op joint. For our post op patients, we can focus on pain control initially with this modality, then as they become more active, we can use it at the end of our sessions to provide comfort after working hard.
If using ice packs on your pet at home, be sure to only apply for 5-10 minutes at a time. Place a soft cloth between the ice pack and the pet’s skin to avoid tissue damage.
Homemade gel ice packs
What you need:
- 1 quart or 1 gallon plastic freezer bags (depending on how large you want the cold pack)
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup rubbing alcohol
- Fill the plastic freezer bag with 1 cup of rubbing alcohol and 2 cups of water.
- Try to get as much air out of the freezer bag before sealing it shut.
- Place the bag and its contents inside a second freezer bag to contain any leakage.
- Leave the bag in the freezer for at least an hour.
- When it’s ready, place a towel between the gel pack and bare skin to avoid burning the skin.
An alternative filler is simply to use dish soap, which has a gel-like consistency and will also freeze/retain the cold.
Using heat packs or exercise in warm water can help to relieve pain, relax muscles, and increase oxygen uptake which then speeds tissue healing. We use heat on patients with more chronic conditions such as arthritis as the heat can increase irritation of an acutely painful area.
If you use heat at home, be sure the pet can move away from the heat source to avoid getting overheated as well as prevention of thermal burns to the skin.
How to make your own homemade heat pack:
- Two hand towels
- Ziplock bag
- Wet both towels with water, squeezing out the excess water until they’re just damp.
- Put one towel in the ziplock bag, being sure to leave the bag open. Place the bag in the microwave and heat on high for two minutes.
- Remove the bag from the microwave. Be careful — it will be hot! Seal the ziplock bag, and wrap the other wet towel around the bag.
- Apply your homemade heating pad to the sore area. The heat should last about 20 minutes.
Cryotherapy being performed on Jane to reduce pain in her knee.