Contrast baths: A systematic review of the effects of contrast baths on edema
Study design. Systematic review.
Purpose of the study. To seek evidence based research on the effectiveness of contrast baths as a treatment modality for edema management.
Method. A search of several databases for research articles dating back 25 years. The American Occupational Therapy Association Guidelines for Systematic Review was used to guide the process.
Results. A total of nine studies met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. These studies compared the effects of contrast baths to various controls on physiological outcomes such as intramuscular temperature, blood flow and edema. The subjects included healthy volunteers and subjects with a diagnosis of ankle sprain, diabetes, and carpel tunnel syndrome. No standard protocol exists on administering contrast baths.
Conclusion. Findings report that contrast baths therapy cause fluctuations in subcutaneous temperature and blood flow, but not intramuscular. Contrast bath therapy was not found effective on reducing edema.