Ice can help decrease pain, swelling, and inflammation that
can result from injury and from some conditions such as arthritis. Ice massage
is a quick and easy way to get the benefits of ice.
You can use an
ice cube, but it's easier to use an "ice cup" for ice massage.
To make an ice cup, fill a small paper or foam
cup about two-thirds full, and freeze it until it is solid.
use the ice cup, peel off the top of the cup so about
0.5 in. (1.3 cm) of ice is
showing. The remaining part of the cup is for you to hold on to.
the ice melts, it will drip, so put a small towel under the area you are
Rub the ice in small circles all over the affected area.
Avoid areas where the bone is close to the skin, such as right over your
kneecap, the point of your elbow, or your spine. Some people also find it is
more comfortable to put a moisture barrier such as a section of plastic bag
over the area, so the ice is not directly touching the skin. To try this, hold
the plastic in place with one hand and rub the ice over it with the other
If the ice melts down so the cup is touching your skin, peel
more of the cup off.
Continue for about 7 to 10 minutes. The area
will feel cold at first, then it may burn, then ache, then finally become numb.
Your skin will be pink and cold when you finish.
You can do an ice
massage several times a day if it helps you.
Basford JR, Baxter GD (2010). Therapeutic physical agents. In WR Frontera et al., eds., Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Principles and Practice, 5th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1691–1712. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.