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Physiother Res Int. 2003;8(3):111-20.

Cryotherapy after total knee replacement: a survey of current practice.

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School of Health and Social Sciences, Coventry University, UK.



Cryotherapy is commonly used during physiotherapeutic rehabilitation after total knee replacement (TKR). Evidence for treatment effectiveness is contradictory and there are no clinical guidelines to inform treatment protocols within this patient group. The present survey investigated current cryotherapy practice after TKR throughout the United Kingdom (UK).


A postal survey, containing open and closed questions, was distributed to senior inpatient orthopaedic physiotherapists (n = 453).


The response rate was 67% (304/453) and 58% (263/453) of the responses were completed by physiotherapists who treated TKR patients in the acute phase. Of these, 33% (85/263) routinely applied some form of cryotherapy after TKR. Physiotherapists working in the private sector were more likely to use cryotherapy and had greater access to Cryocuff equipment. The two main methods of cryotherapy application were the Cryocuff device, 59% (155/263) and crushed ice, 30% (79/263). Treatments were applied most frequently between 24 and 48 hours post-surgery, for 20 minutes, twice a day. Lack of proven efficacy was the most frequently stated reason for not applying cryotherapy treatment, and swelling was the most common indicator for treatment. There was particular uncertainty about the physical management of the Cryocuff device.


There was little consensus with regard to treatment indicators, method of application and the management of cryotherapy after TKR. The results highlight a lack of consistency in the application of cryotherapy after TKR, indicating a need for further research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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