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Effects of Contrast Therapy Using Infrared and Cryotherapy as Compared with Contrast Bath Therapy on Blood Flow, Muscle Tone, and Pain Threshold in Young Healthy Adults

JinHong Kim, HyunKyung Jung, JongEun Yim

Rehabilitation Clinical Research Center, Korea Worker’s Compensation and Welfare Service, Incheon Hospital, Incheon, South Korea

Med Sci Monit 2020; 26:e922544

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.922544

Available online: 2020-06-08

Published: 2020-08-03

BACKGROUND: The aim of this research was to compare the effects of contrast bath therapy (CBT) and contrast therapy (CT) using infrared (IR) and cryotherapy (CR) on blood flow, muscle tone, and pain in the forearm.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Twenty healthy individuals participated in this study. Each participant received 2 kinds of CT separated by a week. CBT involved immersion in hot water (38-40°C) for 4 minutes, followed by 1 minute of immersion in cold water (12-14°C) for four rotations. CT using IR and CR was performed in the same manner as CBT.
RESULTS: The variables measured were blood flow, muscle tone, and pain before and after intervention. Both types of CT produced fluctuations in the blood flow (P<0.05). The pain threshold increased on both therapies; a significant increase was noted with IR and CR (P<0.05) therapies. Muscle elasticity was induced and stiffness was reduced with all therapies (P<0.05). IR and CR resulted in significant changes (P<0.05) in blood flow as compared with the CBT.
CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study suggest that CT using IR and CR is more effective in improving blood flow than CBT and has the same effect on muscle tone and pain. Nonetheless, using IR and CR is efficient with regard to mobility and maintaining temperature; therefore, it would be convenient to use these in clinical settings. Further studies involving CT should be carried out to determine whether our findings are clinically relevant.

Keywords: Muscle Tonus, Pain Measurement, Regional Blood Flow, Skin Temperature