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Hilotherapy is a continuous-flow therapy that may be used as thermotherapy for warming or as cryotherapy for cooling. A device (Hilotherm) provides exactly the selected temperature between 10 °C and 38 °C. This temperature is applied to the patient by face masks or body cuffs.[1][2][3]

Most common application[edit]

Hilotherapy is a form of cryotherapy, which is a widely used method to treat patients after surgeries or injuries. It is applied to stop bleeding (through vasoconstriction) and avoid swelling, hematoma, and pain.[4][5][6] However, there are also negative effects of cryotherapy when treatment temperatures are too low. Those are: frostbite [7], reactive hyperaemia (increased bleeding) [8, 9, 10], increased swelling (with 5 °C to 15 °C tissue temperature) [11, 12, 13], and nerve palsy [7, 14, 15, 16].

Benefits of Hilotherapy[edit]

Unlike most cooling methods, hilotherapy offers the possibility of controlling the exact temperature setting for the treatment.[1][2][3] Therefore, it is safer but, as a continuous-flow cold therapy, also more effective than non-continuous-flow systems (ice, compresses, bucket systems etc.) in terms of pain/analgesics reduction [,[1] 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23], reduced swelling [,[1] 22], and greater early range of motion [,[1] 17, 18, 20, 23].


  1. ^ a b c d e Belli, E.; Rendine, G.; Mazzone, N. (2009). "Cold Therapy in Maxillofacial Surgery". The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery. 20 (3): 878–880. doi:10.1097/scs.0b013e3181a14d3d. 
  2. ^ a b http://www.hilotherapie.com.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ a b http://www.hilotherapy.co.uk.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Schröder D., Pässler H.H., Combination of cold and compression after knee surgery. Knee Surg, Sports Traumatol, Arthroscopy (1994)
  5. ^ Schaubel HJ: The local use of ice after orthopaedic procedures. American Journal of Surgery 72: 711–14, 1946
  6. ^ Use of Cryotherapy for Orthopaedic Patients; McDowell, J.H., McFarland E.G., Jermier Nalli B. Orthopaedic Nursing, 1994, Volume 13, No. 5, pp. 21–30

7 Use of Cryotherapy for Orthopaedic Patients McDowell J. H., McFarland E. G., Nalli B. J. Orthopaedic Nursing (1994) Volume 13, Number 5, pp. 21–30 8 Albrecht, S.; Le Blond, R.; Cordis, R.; Kleihues, H.; Gill, C.: Effekte kontinuierlicher Kryotherapie auf den operativ traumatisierten Bewegungsapparat. Unfallchirurgie 22, 168-175(Nr.4) Urban&Vogel (1996) 9 Knight K. L. (1985) Cryotherapy: theory, technique and physiology, Chattanooga Corporation 10 Meeusen R., Lievens P. (1986) The use of cryotherapy in sports injuries. Sports Med 3: 398 - 414 11 Farry P.J. Prentice N.G., Hunter A.C. Wakelin C.A. Ice treatment of injured ligaments: an experimental model. N Z Med J 1980; 91: 12-14 12 Matsen F.A., Questad K., Matsen L. The effect of local cooling on postfracture swelling. Clin Orthop 1975: 109; 201-6 13 McMaster W.C., Liddle S. Cryotherapy influence on posttraumatic limb edema. Clin Orthop 1980:150; 283-7 14 Cryotherapy-induced nerve injury Basset F. H III, Kirkpatrick J. S., Engelhardt D.L. et al. American Journal of Sports Medicine (1992), Volume 20, pp. 516–518 15 Peroneal nerve palsy after cryotherapy Collins K., Storey M., Peterson K. Physician Sports Med (1986), Volume 14, pp. 105–108 16 Cryotherapy and nerve palsy Drez D., Faust D.C., Evans J.P. American Journal of Sports Medicine (1981), Volume 9, pp. 256–257 17 A Comparison of Crushed Ice and Continuous Flow Cold Therapy Barber F.A. The American Journal of Knee Surgery Spring 2000/Vol 13 No 2 18 Continuous-Flow Cold Therapy After Total Knee Arthroplasty Morsi E. The Journal of Arthroplasty Vol. 17 No. 6 2002 19 Evaluation of the contribution to postoperative analgesia by local cooling of the wound Brandner B., Munro B., Bromley L. M. and Hetreed M. Anaesthesia, 1996, Volume 51, pages 1021-1025 20 Continuous-Flow Cold Therapy for Outpatient Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction Barber F.A., McGuire D.A. and Click S. The Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery, Volume 14, No 2 (March), 1998: pp 130–135 21 The effects of cold therapy in the postoperative management of pain in patients undergoing anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction Cohn B. T., Draeger R. I. and Jackson D. W. 22 The American Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 17, No. 3, 1989 The effect of postoperative cold therapy in joint surgery with a new cooling device Münst P., Bonnnaire F., Kuner E. H. Unfallchirurgie 14 (1988), 224-230 (Nr. 4) 23 Cryotherapy as an Analgetic Technique in Direct Postoperative Management of Elective Joint Replacement Albrecht St., le Blond R., Köhler V., Cordis R., Gill Ch., Kleihues H., Schlüter S., Noack W. Z. Orthop. 135 (1997) 45-51