Intramuscular temperature responses in the human leg to two forms of cryotherapy: Ice massage and ice bag

Jeri E. Zemke, J. C. Andersen, W. Kent Guion, Jim McMillan, A. Barry Joyner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Cryotherapy is often used to affect the muscle underlying skin and subcutaneous tissues. However, the relationship between the penetrative ability of various cryotherapy methods and treatment time is not thoroughly understood. The purpose of this study was to measure muscle temperature responses during two frequently used cryotherapy techniques. A 23-gauge hypodermic needle microprobe was inserted to one-half skin-fold thickness plus 1 cm into the medial aspect of the gastrocnemius muscle of 14 subjects. Two groups of seven subjects each were measured for temperature changes during ice bag or ice massage treatment. Each treatment consisted of a 15- minute application of the selected method. A significant difference between the two was observed (t = -2.157, p ≤ 0.05). Ice massage achieved its lowest temperature in an average of 17.9 ± 2.4 minutes, while ice bag reached its lowest temperature in 28.2 ± 12.5 minutes. Ice massage appears to cool muscle more rapidly than ice bag.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-307
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Cryotherapy
  • Muscle
  • Temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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