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Author Topic: Allergic reaction from cold or Burn from Ice gel pack?  (Read 5153 times)

Offline kcknee

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Allergic reaction from cold or Burn from Ice gel pack?
« on: May 20, 2010, 09:30:29 PM »
I had PT today and my PT did the usual ultrasound and manual therapy. He then put the E-stim pads on my leg and wrapped my leg in a large ice pack secured with velcro straps. The timer was set for 15 minutes. The E-stim was turned up higher than before and I felt the muscle cramping throughout. When they took the ice off after 15 minutes, my leg was very red and cold. The ice gel pack had been wrapped before putting it around my leg. The other PT had trouble getting the E-Stim pads off my leg and commented that they were stuck. On my way home I noticed a raised oddly shapen patch over my knee that was bright pink. It looked like the splashed shape a little kid would get if they splashed hot chocolate and burned themselves. I have a larger patch behind my leg that is also pink and raised. It's about the size of a deck of playing cards. Both raised areas are hot, hurt mildly but the one behind my leg has started stinging a bit, and turn white when pressed. There are not any blisters.The swelling feels slightly hard when pressed. I called my PT back to see if the areas were safe to ignore and they had me come back in. They were pretty shocked and said it looked kind of like an allergic reaction to the cold rather than frostbite. They thought it would go away on its own.

If it gets worse, blisters or isn't gone in a few days they said to contact my doctor. The area in front above my knee has become lighter, but the larger area behind my leg is still bright pink and the skin outlining the pink shapes is very bright white compared to the rest of my leg. Has anyone either had an allergic reaction to the cold from icing their leg or burned their leg from an ice gel pack? It was wrapped and was on for only 15 minutes. If so, how long did it take to go away and what did you have to do?

Kristin
12/31/08 - Skiing injury L knee
6/1/09 - ACL stump removed from joint
8/31/09 - ACLr - Hamstring Graft
12/21/09 - Ant Fasciotomy 
8/26/10 - Anterior Interval Release
12/6/10, 5/5/11, 12/22/11 - Fasciotomy
12/7/12 - Nerve Decompression
6/3/13(m), 7/29/13(l), 12/13/13(m & foot) 2/3/14(l) Fasciotomy

Offline mollyc

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Re: Allergic reaction from cold or Burn from Ice gel pack?
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2010, 11:46:30 PM »
Yep, I got a burn from icing my knee. Made the mistake of icing my knee without anything between my knee and the cold pack.  Only took a short time to do it. Looked exactly like you described. For me, it was on the very top of my calf, just below the knee.  Now, many months later, you can see a slight brown patch there, which I assume is a scar. I imagine that it will fade over time. Just be sure to always have something between your skin and the ice pack.  Ace bandages work well. I also used a dish towel when I was too lazy to wrap my leg with the ace bandage.
Ski accident 2/14/09
Ruptured ACL, MCL sprain, bone bruise
ACLr allograft 5/27/09
Knee now 100% fine...skiing and playing tennis regularly

Offline TaniaSki

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Re: Allergic reaction from cold or Burn from Ice gel pack?
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2010, 01:26:34 PM »
That happened to me once as well.  I did have something between the pack and my leg, but got one red raised area just like you described.  It went away after about a day and never came back thankfully.  It sounds like yours is worse than mine was.  If your PT can't help, maybe give a ring to a dermatologist?  Good luck.
3/28/10:ski accident
3/31:TPF ORIF surgery-7 screws, 1 plate, cadaver bone; NWB; brace locked at 0 8 wks; unloader brace 4 wks
6/21:WBAT; unloader brace; 1 crutch
7/1:no crutches; unloader
8/15:unloader as needed
9/17:hardware removed
3/1/11:discharged from PT
4/4/11:discharged by surgeon!

Offline Silkncardcrafts

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Re: Allergic reaction from cold or Burn from Ice gel pack?
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2010, 03:47:53 PM »
Hi there,

I am a sports trainer and we always tell people to have something between their skin and the ice pack, frozen peas or ice. Otherwise, you could end getting an ice burn. It is really important to do this.

If it gets worse definitely get it checked out.

Good luck !
11/1996 - RK LR
07/1997 - LK LR
11/1998 - LK MPFL Reco
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Offline kcknee

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Re: Allergic reaction from cold or Burn from Ice gel pack?
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2010, 04:36:13 PM »
At least I'm not the only one that managed to burn myself with ice. :) There are actually a lot of stories on the Internet about people getting ice burns from the gel packs. My situation is very strange since the ice gel pack was wrapped in a pillowcase, a 15 minute timer was set and the PT was the one in charge of everything.

The front mark is entirely gone, but the skin underneath is still feeling more solid or swollen, kind of like if you got hit with a stick. (I grew up with brothers.) The marks on the back are a lot smaller, but are as raw and bright purple/pink as you can get without having the skin open. Thankfully it stopped short of blistering. I wouldn't be surprised if it left a mark. The back stings a lot.

I go back to PT in the morning. I'm not going to let him live this down for awhile. Hopefully the marks and swelling go down soon so I can ice again and get some of the inflammation in my leg down. I also have a PT coming to my house on Wednesday to fit me for the Dynasplint so hopefully it at least stops stinging by then.

Thanks for responding.

Kristin
12/31/08 - Skiing injury L knee
6/1/09 - ACL stump removed from joint
8/31/09 - ACLr - Hamstring Graft
12/21/09 - Ant Fasciotomy 
8/26/10 - Anterior Interval Release
12/6/10, 5/5/11, 12/22/11 - Fasciotomy
12/7/12 - Nerve Decompression
6/3/13(m), 7/29/13(l), 12/13/13(m & foot) 2/3/14(l) Fasciotomy