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knee pain

Ice Machines: The 5 Best to help with Knee Pain

Knee injuries are one of the most common reasons for Doctors visits in the U.S.

In 2010 alone, there were 10 million visits to the doctor’s office for knee injury treatment.

Some common types of severe knee injuries include Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries, fractures, dislocations, and muscle tears. Ice machines also provide great relief and aid in recovery after surgeries such as total knee replacements

The 5 Best Ice Machines for Knee Pain Most activities require the knees to have a functional range of motion of 0 to 117 degrees while walking requires the knees to flex up to 60 degrees when the heels are at the highest point up. Swelling and pain are the most common reasons for lack of motion.

Luckily for millions of Americans out there, there is a reliable way to help manage the pain and swelling of a knee injury. Using an automated ice machine decrease swelling in the knee and reduce pain to help keep the knee moving and performing at its best.

Name Picture Price Best Feature Our rating Best Price
Vive Therapy Ice Machine $$ Circulates 6 liters of ice water 9.7/10 See Current Price
Ossur Cold Therapy Machine $$ Small and quiet motor to help circulate the ice water 9.5/10 See Current Price
Coolman Cryotherapy System $$ We love the temperature monitoring to let you know when to get new ice 9.6/10 See Current Price
Arctic Ice Systems $$ Easy to carry handle and adjustable timer for easy pain relief 9.4/10 See Current Price
Aircast Cryocuff Unit $ Gravity Fed system with no motor that will break down 8.9/10 See Current Price

What are Therapy Ice Machines

Ice machines are machines that provide cold therapy through a brace or wrap. Ossur cold therapy ice machine for knee painThey can be either motorized or non-motorized devices that apply a focused form of cold therapy on specific regions of your body. The coldness of the ice calms down the nerve endings in your knee, reduced blood flow and swelling and thereby reducing pain and easing recovery. In other words, it is a more focused and more advanced version of applying an ice pack onto an injury.

Are Ice Machines More Effective than Ice Packs

Ice machines are more effective than simple ice packs because the full wrapping that the ice machines provide allow for better coverage, safer application, and more compression to your knee compared to an ice pack. Ice machines remain colder longer and and can be used more frequently as compared to having re-freeze a cold pack. Ice machines also come in motorized and manual forms, with motorized machines being able to start on their own.

On the other hand ice packs are small and convenient which may make them easier to use when traveling or in a hurry.

A Quick Guide to Using Aut0matic Ice Machines

Topic Answer
How Long Should You Use an Ice Machine 20-30 minutes at a time. Any longer can have negative effects on healing
How Cold Should the Water Be? Between 40 and 45 degrees for pain control
Where to Put the Ice Therapy Pad? All around the knee. Start on the front and the next time try the sides or back.
How Often Should I Use the Ice Machine? No more than 1x an hour for 20-30 minutes. You can do it as many times during the day you need through out the day.

What to look for in Ice Therapy Machines

There are four main characteristics you look for when getting an ice therapy machine: size, length of tubes, auto shut-off features, and reusable fabric pads.


Machine size is important for portability and usability as larger ice machines are more difficult to carry. The size of pads is also important because although larger pads cover a larger area for the body, they are sometimes more of pain to treating more focused injuries in smaller joints.

Length of Tubing

length of ice machine tubingThe tubing of an ice machine should be made of heavy-duty material for better durability and not require constant replacements. The length of tube should be long enough so that the machine can be on the floor and the tube still reach onto the bed or the couch. You should have a tube that is too long than too short.

Auto Shut-off

Another feature that you should pay attention to is the existence of an automatic shut-off feature. This is important especially for motorized ice machines as they can get extremely cold. If you fall asleep it could actually cause more pain and tissue damage if the machines stays on for hours. Having an automatic shut-off feature allows you to not worry about remembering to shut off your ice machine after use.

Ice Pads

Finally, you should consider if the pad on your ice machine is reusableice therapy pad as that can add costs if you have to constantly replace them. Also, consider how easy is it to wash the pad. Can you put them in the washing machine, dishwasher, or how easy is it is to clean.

FAQ About Using Ice Machines for Knee Pain

How Long Should I Use an Ice Machine on my Knee?

You do not need to ice for more that 20-25 minutes to get the positive effects. Icing longer can actually have negative effects and something you want to avoid.

Can I sleep with an Ice Machine on my Knee?

You absolutely can. Icing right before bed is a great way to decrease pain and help you get to sleep easier. We do recommend using an ice machine that does have a timer to stop after 30 minutes.

Can I Get Frostbite from Using Ice Machines?

You can! If you have low muscle mass and have the ice machine on for over 30 minutes without a barrier between you and the ice it is possible. Make sure to either put a barrier like a pillow case underneath the ice pad.

Should you use Ice or Heat for a Knee Injury?

It depends on how new the injury is. For new injuries or surgeries that are less than 2 weeks old we recommend ice. Once the injury is older than 2 weeks we do like to switch to heat if you can tolerate it.

Can I use an Icing Machine for my Knee After Surgery?

Absolutely! Using an ice machine right after surgery is one of the best ways to manage pain and help speed up recovery.

The Top Ice Machines for Knee Injuries

Vive Cold Therapy Ice Machine

Summary: The Vive Cold Therapy Machine is great because it can hold up to 6 liters of ice water that circulates continuously through the machine for up to 30 minutes. That’s a half hour of fresh ice water for pain relief. It comes with a large therapy pad that can also be used on other achy joints. The machine itself is quiet so you can still watch TV or read a book and not be distracted. We also love that it comes with 3 elastic straps that are used to wrap it in place and make it stay.

Vive Cold Therapy ice Machine for Knee Pain

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Ossur Cold Rush Compact Ice Machine

Summary: A variation on the original Ossur cold rush ice machine, this device is compact and quiet, so you can recover from your knee injury in peace and quiet. The Ossur Cold Rush System With an automated motor and a single speed setting, this device is easy to use and easy to carry. It is well suited for use both at home and in a clinical setting. Furthermore, several pads can be bought alongside the Ossur including knee pads for those pesky knee injuries!

Ossur Cold Rush Ice Machine for knee pain

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COOLMAN Cold Therapy System Cryotherapy Ice Machine

Summary: The Coolman cryotherapy machine is very similar to the Vive machine above. It can hold around 6 liters of ice water. The water is continuously pumped through the hosing and pad to maintain wold therapy on the joint. This machine has 5 different levels of pumping and has a temperature monitoring feature from 41 to 68 degrees. The therapy pad can detach from the hose so you don’t have to take the whole machine to the kitchen or the bathroom. It also comes with elastic straps to hold the pad in place.

Coolman Ice machine for joint pain

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Pain Management Technology Cold Water Therapy Unit

Summary: The Pain Management Technology cold-water therapy system offers up to 7 hours of continuous cryotherapy for a variety of injuries. This device comes with a free pad that can be used for a variety of injuries including knees, shoulders, and ankles. It also uses a semi-closed loop which allows for both a continuous flow of ice to the injury and a continuous application of pressure. This pressure helps ensure better pain relief and maximum recovery. This device can be used for a variety of stages in your recover whether it is at the early stages or post-operative recovery.

Arctic Ice System knee ice machine

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Aircast Cryo Cuff Knee Cold Therapy Machine

Summary: The Aircast Cryo Cuff device is specially designed for use on the knee. It is a manually operated ice machine that uses cooled water and a specialized knee pad to help maximize recovery for your knee injuries. The machine uses a gravity-fed system to provide cooling which takes away the worry of having to turn off the machine before it stays on for too long. Furthermore, additional pads can be bought to help provide more tailored coverage for other parts of the body.

Aircast Cryotherapy Ice Machine for Knee Pain

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Do you want the clinical strength model? Check out the Game Ready Unit for a clinical strength ice therapy machine.

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is for educational purposes only. This is not a substitute for a medical appointment. Please refer to your physician before starting any exercise program.