I am not a physician and do not claim to be. The following is not intended to take the place of professional medical advice. It is intended to provide basic information on the use of simple ice therapy, based on my experience, research and that of people I have known, of small injuries for those that may be interested in the topic. As with any serious injury or illness it is advised that you seek the attention of a qualified physician before attempting treatment and before further activity. I am in no way liable for your use or misuse of the information provided. Icing constricts blood vessels (and thus; flow) and slows down cellular metabolism and lowers temperature. A great phenomenon of this process is the actual increase in the flow of nutrient. Reactive Vasodilation occurs roughly twenty minutes after ice is applied. This causes the temperature to rise but flow is kept relatively low. This should be practiced after an injury is sustained or as a precautionary method after workouts or other physically laborious activity. When practicing ice therapy there are 4 stages to help the subject manage the treatment: Stage 1: Cold Youve simply placed the ice on the affected area. Stage 2: Burning (sometimes called prickling) You feel the temperature change Stage 3: Aching Can be painful when you realize that ice is cold Stage 4: Numbness When the area feels numb remove the ice. *This process can vary by size and bodily composition of the subject but generally shouldnt be over 30 minutes. Allow the skin temperature to return to normal before reapplying the ice. When applying ice it is generally advised that the ice not have continual direct contact with the skin. A thin towel can serve you well here. Many times it is found advantageous to cycle hot and cold together to stimulate the constriction/dilation of the blood vessels and promote the flow of nutrients to the affected area. Ice as quickly as possible for best treatment of injuries and continue to ice regularly for multiple cycles until major swelling is under control. Continuance through treatment of injury can be beneficial. Carefully working the affected area through the range of motion during the latter period of the treatment can be beneficial to recovery and rehabilitation. Other alternatives: * Ice massage is a very effective tool for caring for affected areas. The simplest means is to fill a paper cup with water, freeze it, and tear away paper from the top of the cup. Use this for roughly ten minutes at a time, allowing the skin to return to normal temperatures before restarting. It is advised not to leave ice in direct contact with skin as it can be painful and cause damage. * Another commonly used alternative is commercially produced cold-packs. These are a convenient and safe alternative to actual ice when used correctly. It is advised to have no contact between the cold-pack and the skin. With some of these products this can result in damage to the skin (even minor frost-bite). * Ice baths can effectively isolate an entire body part (i.e. ankle sprain entire area can be affected). Simply fill a bucket (or container large enough) with cold water and ice and immerse the affected area in water. Do not immerse the entire body in ice/water. This can result in shock, heart attack and/or other complications. *Ice should not be used on blisters or open wounds. People with certain conditions should avoid the use of ice including those with Rheumatoid arthritis, certain circulatory disorders, hypersensitivity to cold, etc. If you have a disease or condition that you think may be adversely affected by the use of ice therapy consult a physician. A good rule of thumb: R.I.C.E. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation Always consult a physician before beginning any physically demanding or potentially harmful activity.