Best Ice Therapy Machine

5 Best Ice Therapy Machines for 2022

Aids, Wellness

The benefits of cold as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory date thousands of years back during the era of the Ancient Egyptians. Arnott was the first person to successfully use extreme cold in the form of crushed ice to palliate tumors. This method reduced pain and hemorrhages. Since then, cold therapy evolved into focal destruction of tissue or abnormal cells used with an ice therapy machine. It’s also known as cryotherapy. There are many other forms of cold therapy and most are designed to relieve muscle pain, soreness, or inflammation. Cold therapy reduces blood flow pressure to the focal area by constricting the blood vessels to reduce inflammation, in turn relieving pain.

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Cold therapy is an affordable and effective pain relief therapy used across the world. From injuries to strained muscles and surgery recovery, ice therapy machines work for any pain. A popular cold therapy method is the use of the ice therapy machine for shoulder, hip, cervical, elbow, knee, ankle, leg, and back pain relief. 

You can us ice therapy in the following situations: 

  • Post-surgery: After surgery, patients often experience pain, blood loss, and sometimes inflammation. You can use cold therapy to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and bleeding. Plus, cold therapy is also a welcome alternative for pain medication. Common side effects of pain medication include nausea, tolerance, and addiction. Some post-surgery pain relieving meds are actually narcotics which, over time, are addictive. 
  • Injury: Using ice therapy immediately after an injury helps numb the pain in the injured area by constricting blood vessels to reduce blood circulation in the area, hence reducing pain. 
  • Sprains, strains, and pain around muscles and joints: Such kind of pain can be acute or chronic. Ice therapy can help alleviate acute pain or manage joint and muscle strains, sprains, or pain.  

For the elderly, athletes, or patients recovering from surgery, a home-use ice therapy machine may come in handy.  

What is the best ice therapy machine?

Our top pick is the Polar Active Ice 3.0 Cold Therapy Machine System. 

The Polar Active Ice 3.0 Cold therapy machine system excels in most features and functions of an ice therapy machine. It has a large reservoir, a customizable digital timer with 10-minute incremental cycles, and has a powerful motor to drive the pump.  

We love that you can opt for a larger wheeled reservoir model. While the style we reviewed was specifically built with a knee/joint compression pad, you can still convert it into an ice therapy machine for back, ankle, or shoulder pain relief simply by purchasing your desired compression pad separately.

Best Ice Therapy Machines compared

Ice therapy machines can help you easily achieve the RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) technique for quick recovery. Initially clinics, hospitals, orthopedic centers, and sports centers used them. Now anyone can use them at home. However, insurance plans often don’t cover them and they can be quite pricey. So, renting them is also a good option.

  Price Product Our Rating Special Features
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Polar Active Ice 3.0 Cold Therapy 4.6/5 Longer continuous therapy session up to 990 minutes (16.5 hours) with 10-minute incremental cycle times.
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Ossur Cold Rush Therapy Machine System With Knee Pad 4.3/5 Flow control knob and high water-to-ice ratio.
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Vive Cold Therapy Machine 4.2/5 Transparent reservoir with convenient fill lines.
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NEHOO Cold Therapy System 4.3/5 7-foot insulated tubing.
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Cryotherapy – Circulating Personal Cold Water Therapy Ice Machine 4.3/5 Large 11×11-inch universal compression pad.

How does a medical cold machine work? 

An ice therapy machine is a device that is designed with a manual or automatic compression pad, pump, hose, and reservoir. The rubber compression pad is placed directly on the affected part of the body. Then the machine pumps ice-cold water from the reservoir through the hose, then to the pad. Most compression pads are designed to be wrapped around the joints for effective pain relief. Compression on an area prevents the accumulation of excess fluid, reduces swelling, and stimulates tissue repair to speed up recovery.

What are the benefits? 

Doctors, physical therapists, and sports therapists recommend ice therapy machines over ice packs for their immense benefits. Here are some notable benefits of ice therapy machines.  

  • They offer more effective pain relief 

Unlike ice packs, ice therapy machines combine cold and compression for more effective pain relief. The cold eases pain and restricts blood vessels to reduce pressure in blood flow for reduced inflammation. Compression on the other hand also reduces swelling and pushes the cold penetration deeper under the skin. Some models are designed to offer intermittent active compression for more effective treatment of the swelling.  

  • They are convenient to use 

Ice packs are not as convenient to use as ice therapy machines. This is because ice packs melt fast under heat. In addition, it is difficult to control or maintain consistent temperature over an extended period of time with the ice pack. Ice therapy machines are designed to provide treatment for up to 10 hours depending on the model. Further, they cannot be applied or wrapped around the affected area as conveniently as the ice therapy machine’s compression pad. The latter is designed with a smooth surface that wraps around the affected area and is comfortable on the skin.  

  • They are portable  

The ice therapy machine is packaged conveniently for easy use. It also has temperature control and can be used anywhere in the house, sports field, or park. It’s more convenient than an ice pack since all water that melts will go into a reservoir. 

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What should you consider when buying a cold therapy machine?

As it is with other devices, there are many brands and models of ice therapy machines in the market. Choosing one is tricky. But, keep in mind the factors listed below to help you narrow down your selection and make the best choice for you or your loved one.   

1. Therapy runtime  

How long does the cold therapy unit last on therapy? The best units will deliver longer consistent cold therapy runtimes of 8 hours to 10 hours. Others can be timed with 15 to 30-minute increments. Some also provide an additional battery pack that you can use when you can’t plug your unit into a power outlet.  

2. Size of the hose 

A good ice therapy machine offers you maximum flexibility without having to carry it everywhere you go over short distances. Thus, check that the hose is long enough to allow you to move around without the machine. Also, a detachable hose is a convenient portability feature especially when you have to be outdoors.  

3. Pad options  

Some machines come with pads that are designed for use only in specific areas. You’ll find an ice therapy machine for the legs, another one for the hips, and another that works for all parts of the body. Still, others come with multiple compression pads to expand their functionality.  

4. Motorized or non-motorized  

Motorized ice therapy machines are powered by a motor. Though they’re more powerful in delivering a consistent flow of ice water, they can be a little heavier and noisier. The non-motorized models have quieter operations, are lighter than their counterparts, and do not require plugging into a source of power to charge. Only, do not expect them to deliver as much power.  

5. Size and weight

Averagely, cold therapy systems weigh between 2 pounds (0.9kg) and 8 pounds (3.6kg). If you will be traveling with your ice therapy machine, you are better off going for the lighter non-motorized models. Also, check that you can handle the size of the machine you will select during your frequent travels.  

6. The extras

Oftentimes, it is the extra features that distinguish ice therapy machines in value. That includes models that have: sophisticated timers, led screens, hot and cold therapy settings, sensors that monitor temperature, and a range of temperature settings.    

The bottom line is that your needs are most probably different from other people’s needs. Therefore, give priority to the features that meet your specific needs. There could be a trade-in in terms of features. Just be sure to select one that best suits you within your budget. Also, it is vital to seek the recommendations and guidelines of your doctor, sports instructor, or physical therapist. This way, you will be using the machine within safety limits.

Best Ice Therapy Machines 2022

We pitted the top ice therapy machines in the market against each other and these five emerged top for good reasons. Read on to find out what makes them tick.

#1 Polar Active Ice 3.0 Cold Therapy Ice Machine System

The knee and joint cold therapy system is one of the twelve models in the Polar Active Ice 3.0 line of systems. Designed for specific parts of the body, it’s a great option for injured or post-surgery pain management. This ice therapy machine will ease pain, swelling, and inflammation. In addition, it will also let you recover faster without taking pain-relieving drugs that may give nausea and a high drug dependency, among other factors.  

This unit comes complete with a double insulated 9-Quart cooling reservoir that can accommodate up to six 16.9 oz frozen water bottles to take you through long therapy sessions without having to replace the ice. You can also opt for the larger 16-Quart wheeled reservoir if you need longer therapy sessions, perhaps overnight. Attached to the reservoir are an efficient pump and a 5-foot-long insulated hose circulating iced water efficiently without compromising its temperature.  

The unique programmable digital timer allows you to custom set your treatment cycle depending on your doctor’s recommendations. It can be programmed to 10-minute incremental cycles for up to 16.5 hours which is way above par performance compared to other therapy machines in the same league. The auto on/off cycle timer is a great safety feature to consider during your purchase.  

The therapy machine’s brushless pump is powered by a 12-volt transformer. To the user’s convenience, this unit delivers steadily high performance throughout the therapy session with minimal noise – a worthy benefit for long therapy sessions.  

Its ergonomic knee/joint compression pad is designed with an elastic and velcro closure to provide a perfectly comfortable fit on your knees and joints during treatment. It features couplings that are fast and easy to disconnect, which allow you to detach and attach the pad conveniently.   

Pros  

  • Programmable digital timer for customized treatment and maximum safety 
  • Large cooling reservoirs for longer therapy sessions  
  • Motorized unit with quiet operation  
  • Insulated reservoir and tube 

Cons  

  • The compression pad is only limited to the knees and joints. There is a universal pad available that you can purchase instead.

#2 Ossur Cold Rush Therapy Machine System (w/Knee Pad) 

The extras in Ossur’s cold rush ice therapy machine for knee injuries, inflammation, pain, post-surgery discomfort, and post-workout recovery takes distinction to a whole new level. An ergonomic knee pad layered with a soft lining will deliver perfect comfort. Its shape resembles that of the knee for excellent localized soothing. Also, you can find compression pads available for the ankle, large shoulder, left hip, lumbar area, rectangle, right hip, small shoulder, and universal pads. The knee pad is adjustable with separate elastic straps to hold it firmly in place and still offer mild compressions.  

The lightweight freeze kit weighs only 4.6 lbs. (2.1 kilograms) and is among some of the most portable units around. Its reservoir walls and hoses are both insulated to keep the water iced throughout six hours of a therapy session. It comes together with the freeze kit pump powered by a powerful yet brushless silent motor same as the ones used in large air conditioners. Even with such high power, the motor operates at a whisper-quiet sound level of 30 decibels yet delivers a strong consistent flow rate, excellent cooling, and compression.  

Some great additions to this unit are the pump carrying handle that enhances its portability, a locking reservoir lid that prevents spills, and a flow control knob for customized regulation of iced water flow. The insulated hose is long and detachable and connects to the compression pad and reservoir with durable universal couplings.  

Pros  

  • Silent brushless motor for relaxed therapies 
  • Insulation on the reservoir walls and tubing  
  • Soft layered knee pad for enhanced comfort  
  • High ice water ration offers longer cooling times 

Cons  

  • Supports only six hours of therapy which may not be long enough for some users.

#3 Vive Cold Therapy Machine

The Vive Cold Therapy Machine offers a simple solid design, high customization, and a large transparent reservoir with a holding capacity of 6 liters. It’s worth noting that this unit is designed with five different continuous flow rates and customizable cycle times with up to 30-minute increments. It features fill lines marked on the reservoir, inbuilt controls on the LED display located on its snap lid, and a mesh filter to prevent clogging. With a low ice alert integrated into its controls, you can fill your ice to a convenient fill line. The low ice alert signals you when the ice has melted and it is time to replenish ice cubes into the reservoir. Therefore, whether you need short post-workout inflammation relief or longer post-surgery pain relief therapy, the Vive Cold therapy machine makes a great choice.   

Also included is a long 5-foot tube that is insulated with foam and a universal contoured compression pad with three straps to firmly secure it for localized therapy. Whether you are using the machine as an ice therapy machine for hip, elbow, knee, or other joint pain relief, its dimpled surface ensures an even distribution of the ice water.  

This makes it a more cost-effective option because you do not have to buy separate compression pads for different parts of your body. Simply place it on the targeted area and secure it firmly with the straps for localized therapy.  

Additionally, you’ll find it has an integrated handle on the system, snap and clip closures on the ends of the tubing to prevent leakage, and is powered by a silent-operation pump that is charged by plugging into a regular 110 volts power outlet.  

Pros  

  • Fill lines for different flow rates, customizable cycle times, and integrated controls make this unit highly customizable 
  • Compression pad is designed to last with a composite material and reinforced seams 
  • Extra-long insulated tubing allows for maximum portability in different settings 
  • Simple, solid, leak, and clog-proof design  

Cons  

  • Universal compression pads do not offer a fit as body part-specific pads.

#4 NEHOO Cold Therapy System

The Nehoo Cold Therapy system stands out for three reasons: it has a large double-layered 7-quarts capacity reservoir, solid construction with a carrying handle, and flexible operation. It weighs about 6 pounds (2.7 kilograms). The control panel at the top of the reservoir lid features a LED screen that displays the temperature of the iced water up to 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Centigrade) in three color codes, a timer with a 30-minute incremental cycle, and three levels of flow rate for easy monitoring.  

This unit’s pump is powered by a quiet brushless DC motor prized for its steady output and high performance. The motor charges through a 12-volt power outlet. The cold therapy system comes with a soft universal compression pad. Thus, you can use this unit as an ice therapy machine for ankle, knees, shoulder, elbow, hip, back, and arm pain relief. This makes it a great option for post-surgery recovery patients or others who need quiet rested therapy sessions. The compression pad is wrapped around the body using the three elastic bandages included in the package which also reinforces the compression applied to the targeted area. The long insulated 7-foot tubing gives users the flexibility that they need in different situations.  

Pros  

  • Extra-long tube offers flexibility  
  • Large capacity reservoir for longer therapy sessions  
  • Flexible operations with customizable settings  

Cons  

  • The incremental timer is fixed at 30 minutes.

#5 Arctic Ice Cryotherapy – Circulating Personal Cold Water Therapy Ice Machine

The Arctic Ice Cryotherapy machine designed for home use flaunts one of the largest capacities with a 9-quart reservoir. The double-insulated reservoir along with the foam insulated tubing effectively maintains consistent ice water temperature. This specific style comes with a large universal compression pad measuring 11×11 inches and a velcro strap to secure it to any of the targeted parts of the body. Also, you can purchase body part-specific therapy pads, separately if you so wish. This makes the Arctic Ice Cryotherapy Machine a good option for acute or chronic pain, inflammation, and soreness around joints and other body parts as a result of surgery, injury, trauma, sports activities, edema, and workouts.  

At the side of the reservoir are two control knobs, one for powering the pump on and off. The second knob is a timer that can set the therapy session on up to 5 hours of continuous flow or in 15-minute incremental cycles for up to 60 minutes. The automatic shut-off is a great convenience feature.  

The silent operating motorized pump delivers enough power to circulate ice-cold water through the pad while allowing users to have relaxed therapy sessions. Additional features like the easy-open lid with snap and clip closure to prevent leaks, the minimum and maximum fill line level to which you should fill your water, and a carry handle to enhance portability.  

Pros  

  • Solid ice tank built to last  
  • Double insulated tubing and ice tank keeps the ice-water cooler longer  
  • Continuous or incremental therapy timing options 

Cons 

  • Its design does not support pumping water vertically. Thus, the user has to stay close to the unit almost at the same level for it to work effectively.

Conclusion

Are cold therapy machines worth it?  

You bet they are. Cold water therapy has proven benefits for relieving pain, swelling, inflammation, and sores following intense workouts, sports activities, surgical procedures, trauma, or injury. By slowing down the flow of blood to the affected area, swelling is reduced to give the tissues around the place time to heal. Another outstanding cold water therapy advantage is that patients do not have to use pain-relieving drugs associated with side effects like high drug dependency (addiction).  

However, apart from reading through the manual to know how to use an ice therapy machine for pain relief at home, work, or elsewhere, you are advised to seek the guidance of your doctor. Your doctor will advise you on the right time to use the machine, how long and how often you should use it, the appropriate temperature to set your machine, and any other guidelines you should follow to use this system safely.

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