Cryotherapy and Compression in Sports Injury Management: A Scoping Review

Alexander, Jill orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-6492-1621, Greenhalgh, Olivia, Selfe, James and Rhodes, David orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4224-1959 (2021) Cryotherapy and Compression in Sports Injury Management: A Scoping Review. International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation . ISSN 1741-1645

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Aim: To provide a comprehensive review of the current position in the literature on contemporary cryo-compression applications for musculoskeletal sports injury management.
Methods: Eight databases were searched; Sport Discus, Science Direct, CINHAL, Scopus, PubMed, Cochrane, ProQuest and MEDLINE. Publications restricted to 30-years and English language. Medical Subject Headings (MeSH), free-text words, and limiting descriptors for concepts related to cryotherapy and compression for sports injury were applied. Inclusion criteria determined at least one modality of cryotherapy treatment applied simultaneous to compression or as a comparison, relevant to sports injury management. Modalities included cryo-compressive devices, gel/ice packs, in association with concomitant compression. Populations included male or female, healthy or injured. Two reviewers independently selected eligible articles resulting in twenty-two studies meeting the inclusion criteria following full-text appraisal.
Findings: Inconsistent methodologies, low sample sizes and variability in outcome measures provides uncertainty over optimum protocols. Lack of prior understanding around protocols for isolated cryotherapy/compression applications prevents understanding on the therapeutic benefits of combined cryo-compression. No definitive agreement behind optimal cryo-compression applications were identified collectively from studies other than the consensus that compression aids the magnitude of cooling.
Conclusions: Although compression appears a useful adjunct to cooling modalities for the management of sports injury, no definitive agreement on optimum compression concurrent with cooling protocols were drawn from the studies. This was consequential of several methodological gaps in reporting throughout studies highlighting the gap of studies that represent applications within a sporting context or applied nature.

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