Hilotherapy is a relatively new application of the age old idea of using ice on an injury. Cool temperatures reduce pain and swelling but ice is actually too cold. Research has found that the ideal temperature to reduce pain and swelling is 15 degrees. The Hilotherm system is used to apply this exact temperature on the tissues continuously for the first 24 -48 hours resulting in faster recovery and less need for pharmaceutical pain relief.
The Science Behind The Technology
Cool therapy or cryotherapy is well established for sports injuries and after surgery. After tissue injury there is a release of biochemicals that are mediators of inflammation which make blood vessels dilate and become more leaky. This causes swelling and also sensitises the tissues to pain. Applying cool therapy inhibits the release of the inflammatory mediators and constricts blood vessels making them less leaky. It has been found that temperatures below 15 degrees causes vessels to dilate and reduces the effect of cool therapy. Maintaining the best temperature over long periods is difficult to achieve with ice based strategies. The Hilotherm technology controls the temperature in the most therapeutic range.
Use After Surgery
Most patients will derive significant benefit from the machine in the first 48 hours. After 48 hours there is no new swelling. It is safe and beneficial to be used full time if desired for the first 48 hours. The most benefit is gained by near continuous use in the first 24 hours after surgery.
People will often sleep with the cuff on but during sleep if the patient changes position the tubing can kink and the flow can be obstructed causing the machine to alarm. If this is too interrupting for sleep the machine may need to be discontinued with overnight. A good starting temperature is 15 degrees but if this is too cold then the temperature can be adjusted up on the machine until it becomes comfortable.
The machine may alarm on occasion this will either be because of;