Cryotherapy Contraindications

A contraindication to cold therapy is an injury or condition that would make applying cold therapy to a sports injury dangerous.

The following are contraindications to cold therapy. This means that if you have any of the conditions below then applying cold therapy is likely to be bad for you. The following list is not exhaustive and we recommend seeing your Doctor for professional advice if you are in any doubt.


Raynauds Phenomenon - A condition affecting small blood vessels in the extremities. Exposure to cold may cause a return in symptoms.

Cold Hypersensitivity - There are many forms of cold hypersensitivity, which include:

  • Cold Urticaria - Also known as hives. A release of histamine during re-warming after a period of cooling, causing red, itchy welts on the skin.
  • Cold Erythema - A rash, characterised by redness and itching, caused by exposure to cold. Can cause severe pain and muscular spasms.
  • Cold Hemoglobinuria - When red blood cells break down so quickly that some haemoglobin cannot combine with blood proteins.

Anesthesia - When there is an area of numbness or altered sensitivity, cold therapy should not be used as pain and the degree of cooling cannot be felt by the patient.

Controversial conditions

The following conditions are considered controversial. They can be treated with cryotherapy, although extra care may be needed. Again, we recommend seeking professional advice if you are in any doubt.

Cardiac Conditions - such as Arthymia, Angina or CHD.

High Blood Pressure - Vasoconstriction could serve to increase blood pressure.

Superficial Nerves - Cold therapy should not be used on an area where nerves pass close to the surface.

Healing Wounds - Cold therapy should not be used over a new wound.

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