The efficacy of cryotherapy in the postoperative shoulder.

Authors: Speer KP, Warren RF, Horowitz L.

References: J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 1996 Jan-Feb;5(1):62-8.

We report the results of an outcome study that used visual analog scales to evaluate the efficacy of cryotherapy in the postoperative shoulder. This prospective study included 50 consecutive patients admitted to the hospital for at least one night after anterior shoulder stabilization, rotator cuff repair, or total shoulder replacement. The patients were randomized: 25 were fitted with a cryotherapy device in the operating room, and 25 were not. Otherwise, postoperative treatment was identical for the two groups, including types of analgesic agents given. Visual analog responses were converted to numeric values by simple measurement techniques. The scales assessed pain, comfort, sleep, analgesic use, and overall satisfaction. On the night of the operation the pain was less severe and occurred less often in the cryotherapy group. Those in the cryotherapy group slept better on the night of the operation and perceived the need to use pain medicine less often in comparison with those in the noncryotherapy group. By postoperative day 10 patients in the cryotherapy group reported their shoulders hurt less often and with less severity. Swelling was less, and shoulder movement hurt less during rehabilitation, enhancing the rehabilitative effort. Cryotherapy offers a number of benefits for care of patients in the immediate postoperative period.


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