An Ice Therapy Machine is a machine designed to reduce swelling and pain in the body. It does so using compression pads filled with ultra-cold water. These machines are much faster and more efficient at relieving pain and soreness than regular old ice packs.
There are many cold therapy machines available, each with different characteristics and use cases. We have put together this article to help buyers with their decision. After a thorough examination of many top cold therapy systems available on the market, we have found that the best Cold Therapy Machine is the Vive Cold Therapy Machine.
- 1 Best Cold Therapy Machine
- 2 Runner Up: Best Ice Therapy Machine
- 3 Budget Choice: Cold Therapy Machine
- 4 Cold Therapy Machine Buyer’s Guide
- 4.1 What is an Ice Therapy Machine?
- 4.2 How Does Ice Therapy Work?
- 4.3 Can Cold Therapy Machines be used on all areas of the body?
- 4.4 Are these machines better than ice packs?
- 4.5 The Type of Pad(s) Included
- 4.6 Size of the Machine
- 4.7 Power Format
- 4.8 Tube Length
- 4.9 Reusable Pads
- 5 Cold Therapy Machine Reviews
- 5.1 Polar Products Active Ice 3.0 Cold Therapy System
- 5.2 Vive Cold Therapy Machine
- 5.3 Arctic Ice Circulating Personal Cold Water Therapy
- 5.4 Ossur Cold Rush Therapy System
- 5.5 Aircast Cryo Cuff Cold Therapy Machine
- 6 Conclusion
Best Cold Therapy Machine
The Vive Cold Therapy Machine is an excellent ice therapy device that should be your first stop when shopping for relief.
Why is this cold therapy machine our top pick? It has all the key features, has a universal pad system that attaches to essentially any body part, and is positioned at a good price. The digital timer and automatic shut-off system turns off the machine after 30 minutes of continuous use. It also comes with a handle, making it easy to carry.
The tubing is insulated, allowing the water to stay cold for longer periods of time. The therapy pad attached to the unit is large and comes with three separate straps. It’s a good design that’s super flexible.
To learn more about the Vive system, head down to our Product Reviews section.
- TARGETED ICE THERAPY RELIEF: Providing cool,...
- QUIET, COMPACT AND PORTABLE: Designed for ease of...
- LARGE FLEXIBLE THERAPY PAD: Uniquely shaped and...
- EXTRA LONG INSULATED TUBING: Allowing for use in a...
- VIVE GUARANTEE: 1 year guarantee so you can...
Runner Up: Best Ice Therapy Machine
The Polar Products Active Ice 3.0 is a solid alternative, especially if plan on using this device for only one body part/injury. This machine is a bit pricey, but it gets the job done wonderfully. It comes in many formats with individual pads designed to target various body parts. You can choose to purchase a single system with one pad, like the knee pad system shown here, or purchase additional pads that will target other areas.
The Active Ice has a 9-quart cooling reservoir that keeps the water cold for a long time. And it uses a brushless motor to operate smoothly without any noise, aiding the recovery process. The system comes with a timer that has a minimum session time of 30 minutes and runs in increments of 30 minutes.
It’s not cheap, and it’s not really universal, but the Active Ice 3.0 system does work well. For further details, see the Product Reviews area below.
Budget Choice: Cold Therapy Machine
The Ossur Cold Rush System is a little bit less expensive than the Active Ice, and comes with a “universal pad” that is designed to go anywhere. Additionally, you can purchase separate pads that are designed to attach to various body parts, should you want to try different options in order to find the best comfort.
This ice therapy machine works wonderfully at providing cold therapy to your injured body parts to encourage healing.
Plus, it comes with different levels of cold. You can customize the intensity and use it on the level that you prefer or that your injury demands. This machine uses a brushless motor, and is extremely quiet.
To learn more about the Ossur Cold Rush system, check out the Product Reviews section below.
Cold Therapy Machine Buyer’s Guide
Here are some frequently asked queries about cold therapy machines.
What is an Ice Therapy Machine?
An ice therapy machine is designed to transmit extreme cold to a specific area of the body in order to reduce pain and encourage healing. These machines use a combination of ice and freezing agents to supercool the liquid in order to speed recovery.
How Does Ice Therapy Work?
Ever see a sports star climb into a vat of ice or otherwise wrap ice packs around their injured, sore joints? It’s extremely common for professional athletes to use ice or full-scale cryobaths to reduce pain.
Ice therapy reduces pain from injury and helps speed healing. There are various studies that have found significant benefits to cryotherapy including up to an 80% reduction in muscle pain.
There is some controversy over extreme cold therapy, and more studies need to be done. But most users find a significant reduction in pain using cryotherapy.
Can Cold Therapy Machines be used on all areas of the body?
Purchasing an ice therapy machine can be confusing because they are sold in so many different ways. Some manufacturers sell a universal pad system, and their pad is designed to go anywhere. Other manufacturers sell a huge variety of pads that can attach to the cold therapy machine. These are shaped to provide maximum comfort and healing to a specific body part.
Should I get a universal pad or individual pad?
A universal pad is obviously the most flexible choice. But if you have a specific injury you need to treat, such as a knee injury, it may be better to purchase a specific knee pad. The specific pad will likely be more comfortable than a universal pad.
You’ll have to consider your circumstances and injury and decide what makes the most sense. In general, it seems to us that starting with the universal pad is the wisest move. Then you can pick up accessory pads if you’d like.
Are these machines better than ice packs?
Yes, they are a much better option than ice packs. With ice packs, you have to hold them down and apply constant pressure to the injury area. With these machines, you can just fix the cooling pad to the area and the machine will do the rest. Also, they provide much better treatment than ice packs, and the recovery results are significantly quicker.
Now let us discuss the list of things you need to consider before buying a Cold Therapy Machine.
The Type of Pad(s) Included
The pad is perhaps the most important part of the system. As mentioned above, some manufacturers use “univeral” pads that are designed to go anywhere, but may not provide an ideal fit for all body parts. Other manufacturers produce specific pads for certain body parts, such as knee pads, ankle pads, and shoulder pads.
This is great, but purchasing multiple pads can get expensive!
To start with, it’s likely best to purchase a large pad with a Velcro attachment. These pads will cover both large and small injury areas. From there, you can choose to pick up specific pads for certain areas of the body you want pain relief for, like your ankles or toes.
Size of the Machine
Cold Therapy Machines come in different sizes. The best ones are those that are compact because they are easy to carry, place, store, and use.
Most ice therapy devices are powered through electricity. Others are powered by gravity. Depending on your environment, mobility, and needs, one will be better than the other.
Gravity ones are nice in that you don’t need to plug one in. You can bring it out on the patio or anywhere, even if you don’t have power nearby. But you have to life it up high above your head, or have someone place it there for you, for gravity to work.
Electric ones are obviously easiest in that a motor does the work for you. But these offer less mobility than gravity units.
The longer the length of the tube, the easier it will be for you to move around. A short tube will restrict your movement and will add to your discomfort during longer sessions. It is also a good idea to look into the quality of the tubes— just make sure they are made of industrial-grade materials so as to avoid water leaks.
It is always a good idea to invest in a machine that comes with a reusable fabric pad. It helps you to avoid getting multiple pads that can end up being quite pricey. Fabric pads can be washed to prevent mold growth, so you can use them frequently and for a long time, depending on the quality of the material used to make them.
A pro tip when it comes to using Ice Therapy Machines is to fill the container up with frozen bottled water rather than ice, as it tends to last much longer than ice and works better as well.
Cold Therapy Machine Reviews
Cold Therapy machines work by constricting the blood vessels in your body and slowing down the steady flow of internal bodily fluids that cause swelling and tenderness. They are pretty easy to use— you just need to attach the cooling pad to the injury area and leave the rest to the machine.
These machines are great to use for post-operative pain relief, sports injuries, traumatic injuries from accidents, and even chronic pain. But how do you choose the best machine from a mountain of similar-looking machines advertising competing features? Well, we are here to help you.
Key Points at a Glance
- Digital timer
- Supplied in a variety of formats with different pads available
- 9-quart cooling reservoir
This machine is specifically designed to provide drug-free pain reprieve post-surgery. Cold therapy reduces the blood flow to the surgical incisions or wounds, which greatly reduces post-op swelling, pain and inflammation. However, it is quite pricey.
It is pretty easy to operate— you just have to add ice and water to the cooling system. The entire system includes a digital timer with an on/off switch, a 9-quart active cooling reservoir, and the one shown here includes a Knee Bladder with compression belts (though multiple other formats are available). There is also an information manual that comes with it, which has information on how to purchase additional parts and their individual costs.
The machine has a quiet, brushless pump. This provides highly effective and steady cold therapy. Any time you need to move during the treatment, you can easily do so by detaching the bladder from the system via leak-proof disconnect couplings.
With the digital timer, you can set the length of your treatment as per your requirements. The default time is 30 minutes, but you can increase that up to 990 minutes with 30-minute increments. Although the timer is a great addition to the mechanism, the minimum time that it lets you set is 30 minutes. So it is not ideal for patients who were recommended less than 30 minutes of cold therapy. It would be amazing if the timer could start with 10 minutes and get adjusted accordingly.
The 9-quart cooling reservoir holds plenty of ice for one time. This reduces the number of times you’d have to replace it with new ice. It also keeps the water cold for quite some time.
The sleeve or pad is about 1 foot long and the size can be adjusted with the given Velcro. It might cover your entire knee, depending on its size; however, the cold water will only circulate 180 degrees rather than 360 degrees.
The bladder is quite bulky, making it a hassle to fill, move and empty it. Even though the pain relief this machine provides is up to the mark, the connecting hose leaks easily and gets disconnected.
The Polar Products Active Ice has a ton of accessories available to it, and it is sold in a bunch of different formats. Depending on the exact area you need to target, you can choose the right format for your recovery needs. A wide variety of pads are compatible with the Active Ice 3.0 system. These pads will allow you to zoom in on back pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, ankle pain, etc.
The Bottom Line
This machine comes with a knee pad and a digital timer. Overall, it is a high-functioning product that keeps the water cold for a significant amount of time.
However, the company needs to work on fixing the quality of the connecting hose so that it does not leak water during the treatment. The quality of therapy it provides is top-notch and the whisper quiet motor provides relief to the patient using this product.
- CUSTOM PROGRAMMABLE TIMER: Our patent-pending programmable timer...
- COLD THERAPY ALL NIGHT LONG: Our double insulated 9 quart cooling...
- INCLUDES AN ERGONIMICALLY DESIGNED KNEE PAD with attached elastic &...
- USA LOCAL: Proudly designed, engineered, tested, and assembled in...
- WARRANTY: Our 6 month manufacturer’s warranty and customer service...
Key Points at a Glance
- Ice therapy unit
- Universal Therapy pad
- Foam-insulated tube
- Three flexible straps
This cold therapy machine includes a sturdy base unit, a cold therapy pad, insulating tubes and three straps. The unit has the space to hold up to six liters of water. The machine has five different settings for the water flow, and the cycle time can be adjusted up to 30 minutes. It also comes with a super informative booklet that has helpful instructions, details, and images.
You will need to restart it if you want to use it for more than 30 minutes. The system beeps after 30 minutes, indicating the end of the session, and automatically shuts down. However, continuously using the machine on an injury for more than 30 minutes is not recommended by doctors and physiotherapists, so it is actually a good feature that puts your safety first.
The unit has a carry handle that makes it easy to carry. The clear container has markings on it that clearly state the required water and ice levels. Be mindful to follow the exact ration of ice and water given on the container to maintain the required cold temperature.
The therapy pad that comes with this machine is large and flexible. It easily bends and fits to the shape of the targeted body part. The surface of the pad is shaped uniquely to ensure even flow of water. The inclusion of three differently sized straps allows the pad to be used on the hip, knee, leg, ankle, elbow, arm, and shoulder!
The system has a five-foot insulated connector tube that keeps the water temperature constant throughout the cycle. All connection points have both snaps and clips to maintain a leak-proof system. You can easily drain the system by disconnecting the lines and rolling the water out of the therapy pad. Next, you can disconnect the hose and drain it as well.
This ice therapy machine also comes with an unconditional guarantee of one year, so you can easily return or replace it if a fault arises.
The material of the pad is a bit flimsy, making it prone to water leakage. The connectors need to be securely locked in after every session, or they may leak. Also, make sure that the tubes are straight and not bent in awkward places. And ensure the pad is not tied too tightly around the Velcro to provide a steady flow of water.
The Bottom Line
Overall, this is a great product with excellent value for money. It can be used on various parts of the body, and it keeps the water cold enough to do the job. The timer is an excellent feature as well— so is the auto shut-off.
The insulating tubes also help greatly in keeping the water cold. Just always make sure that the tubes are straight so that the pad gets a steady flow of cold water all the time.
- TARGETED ICE THERAPY RELIEF: Providing cool, soothing relief for...
- QUIET, COMPACT AND PORTABLE: Designed for ease of use, the cooling...
- LARGE FLEXIBLE THERAPY PAD: Uniquely shaped and flexible, the large...
- EXTRA LONG INSULATED TUBING: Allowing for use in a variety of...
- VIVE GUARANTEE: 1 year guarantee so you can purchase now with...
Key Points at a Glance
- Auto shut-off
- Universal large pad with Velcro
- Compact unit
The Arctic Ice Cold Therapy System can circulate cold water for about 5 hours. It comes with a universal wrap and attached Velcro. This universal pad can be used on various injury areas, including hip, knee, shoulder, wrist, or leg.
The Arctic Ice comes with a motorized pump that circulates the cold water to the pad. It also comes with a helpful manual that has instructions on how to use the machine.
Attach the pad, and pain relief is quick! The Arctic Ice helps relieve pain, swelling, and tenderness caused by injuries including sports-related and post-op injuries. It also works well to manage chronic joint pain experienced by arthritic and diabetic patients.
The pad that comes with the unit is large enough to cover the front and sides of the knee. You can also easily ice the back of the knee, as well. This is because the Velcro strap is industrial grade and pretty sturdy, and will help keep the pad in place. The tubing does not leak. The mechanism is well made and the couplings are intricately made.
When you need to add more ice or cold water during treatment, the lid opens easily for access. The timer has increments of 15 minutes and comes with an auto shutoff option that allows you to manage your treatment in a better way. It is quite easy to use and clean because of its small size. The size of the pad allows you to use it for back injuries as well.
Your purchase is protected under a90-day warranty. Not the best, but better than nothing.
The machine is whisper quiet when operating, which is always a good thing as the patient can rest and relax during treatment. The cord is long enough, so the user can use the unit on the bed or on the couch. Hence, it is a convenient product.
The company needs to look into the motor mechanism of the unit. It is a bit unreliable. Some users have reported that the Arctic Ice stops working at times, and the pump starts leaking water.
The Bottom Line
The Arctic Ice comes with the ever-helpful auto shut-off option and a timer— both of which allow you to take control of your treatment. It works in relieving the pain that comes with reconstructive surgeries and also efficiently and quickly brings down the swelling. Plus, it is super compact. The cord that comes with it is long, which further makes this machine convenient.
However, the motor needs to be worked on; it is unreliable and can stop working anytime.
- COLD THERAPY RELIEF: Provides cool, soothing relief for post-surgery...
- EASY, COMPACT, AND PORTABLE: Designed for ease of use, the cooling...
- TIMED CARE: Settings have 15 minute increments on this machine, up to...
- UNIVERSAL WRAP FOR TARGETED RELIEF: The universal wrap fits securely...
- EXTRA LONG INSULATED TUBING: Foam-insulated tubing allows for ease of...
Key Points at a Glance
- Brushless motor
- Universal cuff
- Highest ice-to-water ratio
- Compact unit
- Varied levels of cold
Out of all the cold therapy machines on our list, the Ossur Cold Rush machine has the highest ice-to-water quotient. It is designed to transfer minimal heat from the running motor to the unit transferring the water, ensuring powerful cold therapy.
The brushless motor used in the mechanism operates quietly, facilitating the rehabilitation process. The Cold Rush Therapy System allows for effective post-surgery pain treatment. It improves joint functioning by significantly reducing the pesky swelling of joints.
It is a pretty compact machine, weighing only 4.6 lbs. This form factor makes it convenient to carry, store, and place where needed. The unit has a lid that locks. The lock prevents any unnecessary spillage of water. It also comes with insulated walls that help keep the water cold for a long time.
You have the option of adjusting the cold water to three different levels: cold, arctic, and a “super” level beyond that. The company does not recommend leaving the machine on the super level for too long. Icy cold water as this temperature can damage one’s skin if used for an extended period of time.
The levels are a great touch. Keep in mind that the colder the level, the faster the unit will run through the ice.
This system comes in a variety of formats. The one shown here uses the “universal” pad, but many other configurations are shown. You can choose to purchase the universal or pick a specific knee, shoulder, or other pad.
The quality of the fabric used for the pad is flimsy at best and does not last for long.
Overall, this product is still worth buying since the machine itself works pretty nicely and is considerably economical than some of the other machines on our list.
The connecting tube does not detach from the unit, making it a bit difficult to empty and refill. The hose connection needs to be tangle-free; otherwise, it will block and hinder the water flow.
The Bottom Line
This product is great, assuming you want the universal pad. This machine is handy and compact and comes with different levels to adjust the coldness of the ice water. It also has a brushless motor that allows the machine to operate quietly.
However, you may not get the one year warranty by Ossur if you purchase off Amazon.
- EFFECTIVE, SOOTHING AND LOCALIZED TREATMENT: Designed to reduce...
- STAY COOLER, LONGER! The highest ice-to-water ratio in the industry...
- STRONG, SILENT AND LIGHTWEIGHT: Cold Rush uses a brushless motor to...
- INCLUDES A UNIVERSAL PAD: For ease of use, the Cold Rush Therapy...
- WARRANTY: Worry-free purchase. 6 month manufacturer warranty.
Key Points at a Glance
- Gravity-fed unit
- Universal cuff
- Large cooler
The Aircast Cryo Cuff is a non-motorized cold therapy unit— the only one on our list. It pours cold water directly into the cuff with the help of gravity. The cuff is designed for providing maximum pain relief from injuries. It also reduces the swelling from traumatic sports injuries and quickens the post-trauma rehabilitation process.
You can put the universal cuff designed for use on knees on either the left or the right knee.
Although it is only designed to ice the front and sides of your knees, you can also ice the back of your knee by rotating it and keeping your knee extended. However, this position can be a bit awkward and can cause more discomfort.
The Aircast delivers exactly what it advertises. It can get a bit cumbersome to move it up and down to get the cold water to the cuff. Just fill the unit with water and ice or iced bottles and tap water and then place the unit at a place higher than your knees. This will allow the water to travel to the cuff and help relieve your knee pain.
You may need some assistance getting this in place, as it won’t function at all without gravity. And it can be hard to lift up to the right height if you’re already injured!
You can use this system while lying down. You just have to make sure the unit is placed on a surface level higher than your injury area because that is how gravity will work to pull the water into the cuff.
Although there is no electricity expenditure with this machine, it can be a bit hard to work with since you have to do the work manually. It is not ideal for a bed-ridden patient since they would need an attendant to help them out.
The jug has the tendency to leak a little, and the water does not stay chilled for long in the cuff. However, the compression of the cuff is nice and ideal for the knee area. Both of the quick release valves tend to leak a little, so make sure they are tightly secured when using the machine.
There are a variety of different cuffs available for the Aircast, including knee, torso, hand, etc. You can choose to just get the package with the specific cuff you need, or pick up a variety of them to have on hand when they’re required.
The Bottom Line
This is a gravity-fed unit. Some may love this format, while it may be a complete non-starter for others. Iced water goes in and out of the cuff by lowering and raising the mechanism above the injury location. It can be a bit cumbersome to manage, especially for a patient who is required to rest.
However, the unit does work and there is no electricity expenditure. The cooler is large enough to store ice or chilled water bottles. The product offers what it advertises.
- Delivers chilled water directly into a cryo/cuff that is anatomically...
- Anatomically designed cryo/cuff provides maximum cryotherapy,...
- Universal fit allows the Aircast Knee cryo/cuff to be worn on either...
- Periodically clean cuff, tube, and cooler using a few ounces of liquid...
- Ideal for: Post-operative recovery, trauma, athletic training rooms,...
Cold Therapy Machines are much more effective than ice packs for your painful injuries, so it is a great idea to invest in one if you’ve got a long recovery ahead of you. The best one on our list is the Vive Cold Therapy Machine. It provides great relief, comes with a timer and has an auto shut-off feature. All these features are a must for any good cold therapy machine. It also has insulating tubes which, help keep the water cold for a long while.
The second best option to invest in would be Polar Products Ice Therapy System. It has a brushless motor that allows it to be efficient and to run quietly during sessions. The reservoir of this unit keeps the water cold and the timer can be adjusted according to your pain.
However, if you are on a budget, then you should definitely look into buying the Ossur Cold Rush Therapy System. It works just as well as the Polar one but is cheaper. The best part about this unit is that it comes with adjustable cold levels, allowing you to easily set the temperature according to your own preferences.
We hope your recovery is swift, and that you don’t need to use these machines for very long!