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How do I Choose the Best Reusable Cold Pack?

By Rebecca Harkin
Updated May 17, 2024
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Reusable cold packs are used to reduce inflammation and pain at the site of an injury. When selecting a reusable cold pack, you will need to decide which size and shape is best, if you will need a cold pack cover with Velcro® straps to secure the cold pack in place, if you will need the pack to be flexible when cold, and how long you will need the cold pack to remain chilled. You will also want to be sure that the reusable cold pack has a cover which will absorb condensation and act as a buffer between the cold pack and your skin, and also be sure that the pack is sturdy and will not burst.

To accommodate different body parts, reusable cold packs come in a variety of sizes. You should select a pack which will completely cover and, if possible, wrap around the injured area. Icing knees, elbows, and the neck can be difficult with standard cold packs, so uniquely shaped reusable cold packs have been designed for these areas.

Most reusable cold packs come with a fabric cover made to absorb condensation and protect the skin from contacting the surface of the cold pack. Occasionally, the covers will have Velcro® straps which can be used to hold the ice pack in place, a helpful feature if you plan to move around while icing. Some reusable cold packs are more flexible when cold than others. Flexibility can improve contact between the cold pack and your skin, enhancing cold penetration into the injury.

Reusable cold packs remain cold for different lengths of time. If your doctor or therapist needs you to ice your injury for a long time, you will want to be sure your reusable cold pack will stay cold long enough for your treatment. If the ice pack you like does not stay cold long enough, you can buy two packs and swap the cold packs half-way through a treatment session. Most cold packs do not stay cold as long as the manufactures state. Finally, the cold pack you purchase should be sturdy, with a thick plastic cover and strong seams, to last through many cold-thaw cycles and to prevent the cold pack from bursting and leaking the gel onto your clothes or furniture.

The best way to select a reusable cold pack is to look at several different makes and styles. Pharmacies as well as medical supply and sporting goods stores will usually have several examples of reusable cold packs for you to hold and examine. If you are seeing a physical therapist, you can also ask him for a recommendation. You could also order a few different cold packs, look at them, and return the ones you dislike.

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