Best Ice Therapy Machines for Knees and Shoulders

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Ice therapy machines are extremely helpful when recovering from shoulder surgery. They are also helpful in relieving knee pain in the case of conditions like knee replacement, arthritis, tendonitis or runner’s knee.

In this article, we have reviewed the best ice therapy machines. If you are in a hurry, then the table below gives a quick snapshot of the top 5.

Best Ice Therapy Machines

Here are some of the best ice therapy machines, if you are suffering from knee or shoulder pain.

#1 Ossur Cold Rush Ice Therapy Machine System

Ossur Cold Rush Ice Therapy Machine provides soothing comfort to acute pain in knees and shoulders, be it, due to a surgical procedure or an injury. It has one of the best ice to water ratios in the whole cryotherapy industry, which means that your ice pad can stay cooler for a longer time.

Ossur Cold Rush Therapy Machine System

This machine is very lightweight and easy to move around. It has very few moving parts. It is almost whisper-quiet with the highest noise level of 30 decibels, which ensures that the patient can get the best therapy in the most tranquil of environments.

The Ossur Cold Rush Ice Therapy Machine also comes with a soft knee pad included, and a long tubing so that you can move about easily if needed full stop the whole product has been designed ergonomically for the best patient comfort

This machine has a 6-month warranty from the manufacturer, so you can buy it without any fear of losing your money.


  • Best ice to water ratio in the industry
  • Lowest noise level of only 30dB
  • Lightweight and easy to move around
  • Long tubing for patient comfort
  • 6-month manufacturer warranty


  • The tubing can become very cold to touch with moisture accumulating on the outside
  • One quadrant of the cuff doesn’t get cold for a few of the users
  • Pads are of small size than expected as per some users

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#2 Polar Products Active Ice® 3.0

One of the best features of the Polar Products Active Ice 3.0 is a programmable timer that you can set to on and off cycles as per your needs, a feature that is not available in most of the competitors of this device.

Polar Products Active Ice® 3.0

It is a very quiet device and has a 16-quart cooling tank, which means that the cooling on a single charge can last much longer than other machines.

Great for the knees, the pad can connect to the device through easy couplings, which is very convenient in case you want to get up during the therapy.

Special elastic and velcro belts are provided along with the machine so that you can apply the cooling pad along with compression benefits as well.


  • Programmable timer for creating on and off cycles as per your need.
  • A quiet and durable device
  • Easy coupling/decoupling of the pad from the machine
  • Elastic and velcro belts included for compression therapy
  • Large cooling tank for longer cooling cycles


  • The hose tends to becomes lose leading to spill of ice water
  • Some users complained that the product stopped working after few days

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#3 Aircast Knee Cryo Cuff Cold Therapy

Anatomically designed cryo/cuff, which eliminates the risk of tissue damage since cooled water is circulated directly to the cuff itself.

Aircast Cryo Cuff Cold Therapy

The pads fit universally and can be worn on both the left and right knees. Once the cuff is filled with cold water, you can disconnect it from the jug and walk around, making this one of the most portable cryotherapy machines, when discussing movement during the therapy itself.

The cuff provided is relatively large and can cover the knee for most individuals.

Here we have a video that shows how to use Aircast Cryo Cuff Cold Therapy.


  • Anatomically designed cuff for no tissue damage.
  • A universal fitting pad can be used on both left and right knee.
  • Large-sized cuff to fit any knee


  • Few users complained that there is leakage from the water hose at both ends
  • Does not stay cold as long as the other models in this list

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#4 ARS Aqua Relief System 

The device comes with a universal pad and hose so that it can be used on any part of the body. We found ARS Ice Therapy machine especially useful for the shoulder and knees.

ARS Aqua Relief System

This device has the special feature that it can be used for both hot and cold therapy. It is particularly beneficial for diabetic patients.

It has the facility for both timed increments and continuous treatment. This is usually not available in other cryo devices. 

The device has an auto-shutoff feature and is convenient to use around the house


  • Universal pad for usage in all parts of the body
  • Can be used for both hot and cold therapy
  • Timed increments or continuous therapy can both be done
  • Convenient Auto-shutoff feature


  • The heating core tends to stop working after a few days or months
  • A few customers complaint of Water leaking from the hose

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#5 DonJoy 11-1422 IceMan Classic

The DonJoy iceman classic cold therapy unit provides extended cold therapy. It uses a special semi closed-loop recirculation system, which delivers the right temperature consistently over a long period of time.

DonJoy 11-1422 IceMan Classic


  • It has a consistently standardized cooling effect
  • A single set of ice can last for an entire day with a large tank available in this device


  • Few users Complain that the device stopped working after a few days

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What is Ice Therapy?

Cryotherapy, or ice therapy as it is popularly known, is a popular method of reducing pain and inflammation caused by injury or any other muscle/tissue-related issue.

The basic principle on which cryotherapy works is that the application of “localized cold” helps to deaden your nerves, thereby making them less receptive to the sensation of pain.

Best Ice Therapy Machines for Knees and Shoulders

Cold therapy also reduces blood flow to the affected area, which can significantly reduce inflammation. Cold therapy helps to reduce the metabolism of your cells, which prevents secondary tissue damage to an injury. Lastly, cold treatment is also so effective in reducing muscle spasms.

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How Do Ice Therapy Machines Work?

Now that we understand what ice therapy is, let us also look into how modern-day ice therapy machines work.

The principle of ice-cold water helping to reduce pain in your injuries or muscles and joints has been known for a very long time.

Once upon a time, kings and queens used to sit in large hypothermic tubs with ice-cold water to help reduce their aching muscles and joints. Thankfully, modern-day ice therapy does not work in this way! 

Sitting in a large tub full of cold, freezing water MAY help reduce your pain, but it would ALSO most likely end up giving you hypothermia, which is a much more severe condition!

Most modern-day ice-therapy machines use the following principle, with slight variations here and there: A pad is applied to the affected area, and ice-cold water is circulated through it using a pump that is either battery-operated or electrical. 

The water may have been cold, to begin with, or might be getting cooled during the process itself. Some machines may use tap water, while others might have a reservoir pre-installed. However, the basic principle remains the same.

Typically an electrical motor controls the flow of water circulating through the pad. The temperature of the water is controlled to a certain extent by reducing it first and then increasing it gradually so that it is not painful on the skin.

Ice therapy is typically applied for 15 to 30 minutes. It is usually followed by using a brace with a moderate grip to keep the affected area comfortable and maximize the benefits of ice therapy.

How Is This Different From Using an Ice Pack?

The most glaring disadvantage of using ice packs is that ice packs are unable to cover the entirety of the joint. Most of the time, they will include either the front or the back but not the complete joint. 

Knee wrapped with ice pack

Secondly, Ice Therapy is a combination of two techniques, namely compression therapy and cryotherapy. Using an ice pack is not able to deliver either of these to their fullest extent.

Lastly, Ice therapy machines can control the temperature being applied to your body. In contrast, ice packs are manual devices, where it is difficult to control the temperature being applied, and it may end up becoming uncomfortable on the skin and hurting the joint rather than helping to reduce the pain.

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Which Is Better – Ice Therapy or Heat Therapy?

This is a wrong and dangerous question to ask. Ice therapy is entirely different from heat therapy in it’s application as well as benefits.

Simply speaking, ice therapy is meant for acute pain, which may be caused by a recent injury or fall that has caused severe pain to you and needs immediate attention. In the joint, thereby reducing inflammation and giving you assistance from pain.

Heat therapy, on the other hand, is meant for chronic pain and works by increasing the blood flow to the affected area, thereby helping to repair the damaged tissue and therefore solving the problem at its root.

What Makes For The Best Ice Therapy Machines?

Now that you are more familiar with the theory and functioning behind an ice therapy machine, let’s delve deeper into what constitutes a good ice therapy machine for your use and what all factors you need to consider before buying one.


Make sure that your ice therapy machine is not bulky. It will be easy to use and carry around. Secondly, make sure that the size of the pad that comes along with the machine is of the right size that you need for the joint or area of your body which you want to address.


The machine should be easy to disassemble and put away as and when needed.

Ease of Use

Ice therapy machines may have complex features, that you might find daunting to understand. Many people prefer simple instructions and easy-to-use machines with limited features and functions so that they don’t end up adding confusion to injury and pain.

Ice Therapy for Knees

Temperature Regulation

As mentioned already, temperature regulation is one of the significant advantages of ice therapy machines over ice packs. make sure that your device has the right settings for you to gradually decrease the temperature without causing discomfort to your skin or joint

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The tubing connects the machine’s reservoir of water with the ice pad. Make sure that the pipe is long enough for you to be able to move around a bit if needed.

Also, ensure that the tubing is made of good quality material so that there are no leakages or cuts in the future.

Wrap Attachment

Most ice therapy machines come with a wrapping attachment that allows you to wrap your pad around the specific joint or muscle that hurts.  Make sure that your machine has this wrapping attachment because it can be very beneficial for you in the long run. 

Auto Shutoff

Ice therapy can be very relaxing, and you might find yourself dozing off because of relief from pain. In such cases, it is good to have a machine that has an auto cut off feature so that you do not end up applying the cryotherapy for too long

Reusable Pads

Having reusable cloth pads will save you a ton of money. Make sure that your machine has these reusable pads instead of single-use ones.

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In this article, we have reviewed some of the best ice therapy machines. In our opinion, the Ossur Cold Rush Therapy Machine System With Knee Pad- Ergonomic, adjustable Wrap Pad Included- Quiet, Lightweight and Strong Cryotherapy Freeze Kit Pump is the best choice among the various options that we have considered. It has the best cooling capacity and effect amongst the various products.

If you are looking for a value for money option, you can consider the Aircast Cryo Cuff Cold Therapy Knee Solution - Blue - Large, Non Motorized, Gravity-fed System, 1count, which offers excellent value at a very reasonable price point.

While we make every effort to provide updated and correct information, the advice given in this article and website should not be construed as “medical advice”. Please consult with your physician or medical practitioner before using any ice therapy machine. Each individual may have his or her unique issues and your medical practitioner is the best person to decide the best pain therapy for your case.