Clinicians are supposed to be evidence-based, but we’re not. We are sheep that follow the herd. Or, as a friend of mine from the University of Illinois often says “follow the Sacred Cows”. I am just as guilty. We go through the same mundane and antiquated treatment protocols that we always have. We don’t want to change our ways because that is what we are comfortable doing and that is what our patient expects. It takes a global paradigm shift in order for us change how we practice. Can a paradigm shift finally be underway in how we treat inflammation?
As followers, I knew our mindset toward ice and anti-inflammatory medication would only change if mainstream media started sharing the data. Now, this is just one story, but it is in the New York Times. Perhaps more articles like this will reach the public. Better yet, perhaps stories like this can appear on TV, like Dr. Oz or GMA. For now, I am just happy it’s finally being shared with the public and I look forward to more. A change will be coming folks. Below is a link to the NY Times article, with the best line saying: “There’s a reason for the inflammation” in the body after exercise, she says. “It’s part of the regenerative process and not a bad thing.” Continue reading →
Read the comments I receive, and you will recognize our ice dependency. “If I don’t ice, then what do I replace it with?” That statement screams dependency. When we take away ice, we feel that a void must be filled. It doesn’t! The treatment decision is multifactorial; the injury type, severity, tissues involved, the person, etc., all play a role in how you treat that specific injury.
A 2013 position statement made by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association on the management of ankle sprains found ice therapies had a C-level of evidence 1. Meaning little or poor evidence exists. In an interview, the author of that article said: “I wish I could say that what we found is what is really being done in a clinical setting…. Maybe our European colleagues know something we don’t…there is very little icing over there.”
The blog shows how I treated an acute ankle sprain without ice by using all of the fun little tools learned through school and further honed with clinical experiences, trial, and error. I did what I thought was best. This protocol should not be used for every ankle injury. My treatment and rehabilitation plan changed daily. Everything I did was based on my ankle needs. I did NOT use any biophysical or electromagnetic modalities. Everything I did was manual. This is not to say that I would not use other modalities, I just chose not to. My only rule? No ice. Continue reading →
If you know me, you are aware of my anti-ice stance. The ice debate continues to heat up. As peer-reviewed data continues to pour in, the evidence for the use of ice to treat musculoskeletal injury still lacks. I’ve written about ice many times, but many of my anti-ice articles are science-y and focused around one topic. I wanted to do something different this time. I wanted to keep it short, sweet and comprehensive. So, I bring you 10 reasons why we shouldn’t ice injuries. Continue reading →
Are you an evidence-based practitioner? Think about it; are you really?
An athletic trainer working a Division 1 women’s volleyball tournament with elite Top-25 teams sent me a text: “You should do a study on the average number of ice bags used by volleyball teams after a match… Entire teams are getting ice on both knees and the hitting shoulder. No post-match mobility work, just pounds of ice. Crazy! Some athletic trainers and strength and conditioning coaches are too ignorant and too lazy to provide proper warm-up and cool-down protocols to address mobility.” This is not shocking to me. I worked with Division I volleyball for several years and I observed this too. This is where I learned ice is overused. This isn’t just a volleyball thing; this is an all-sport issue.Continue reading →
“Coaches have used my “RICE” guideline for decades, but now it appears that both Ice and complete Rest may delay healing, instead of helping.” – Gabe Mirkin, MD, March 2014
In 1978, Gabe Mirkin, MD coined the term RICE. Health care practitioners to laypersons are quick to recognize RICE as the ‘gold standard’ treatment option following injury. Followers of my blog know my stance against ice and now there is support from the physician who coined the term. Yes, the very same physician, Dr. Gabe Mirkin, who coined RICE, is now taking a step back. I reached out to Dr. Mirkin and asked for permission to share his story. As you will read below in Dr. Mirkin’s full post, the lack of evidence for cryotherapy is something we must listen to.
In July I posted a blog discussing The Overuse of Cryotherapy. The controversy surrounding the topic made it one of the most popular blogs I’ve written. What is surprising to me is that a controversy exists at all. Why, where, and when did this notion of anti-inflammation start? Ice, compression, elevation and NSAIDs are so commonplace that suggesting otherwise is laughable to most. Enter an Athletic Training Room or Physical Therapy Clinic nearly all clients are receiving some type of anti-inflammatory treatment (ice, compression, massage, NSAIDs, biophysical modalities, etc). I evaluated a client the other day and asked what are you doing currently – “Well, I am taking anti-inflammatories and icing.” Why do you want to get rid of inflammation and swelling? I ask this question for both chronic and acute injury!
Many years ago I got tired of watching my athletes roll in to the athletic training room and slap on ice. These athletes are in a drug-like induced state of ice addiction. Their athletic trainers keep feeding the disease, by recommending cold treatment and doing the easy – here’s ice, shut-up, leave. I felt I was doing a disservice to my athletes and asked myself, “Why are we icing this injury?” I never had an answer that was supported by evidence. So I began my own case study.
I took 9 Division I athletes (6 patellar tendinopathy, 2 bicipital tendinopathy and 1 subacromial impingement) and had the athletes cease all cryotherapy and electrical stimulation.