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J Athl Train. 1992; 27(3): 231-232, 234.
PMCID: PMC1317251

Sensory Perception of the Foot and Ankle Following Therapeutic Applications of Heat and Cold


Many athletes are treated with hot and cold modalities prior to therapeutic exercise, but the effects of these treatments on sensory perception are not clear. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of hot and cold treatments on sensory perception. We recruited 21 volunteer subjects, who reported for testing on three separate occasions. One of three treatments was applied to the left ankle and foot each day for 20 minutes: cold immersion, hot immersion, or quiet sitting (control). Three variables were measured following treatment: topagnosis, two-point discrimination, and one-legged balance. We assigned treatments and the testing order according to a Greco Latin square. Data were analyzed using a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA). No significant differences were detected for the three dependent measures, suggesting that therapeutic applications of heat and cold do not affect sensory perception. These findings indicate that heat and cold applications can be used prior to therapeutic exercise programs without interfering with normal sensory perception as do other analgesic and anesthetic agents. For example, the hypalgesic effect of cold, which is essential to cryokinetics, can be realized without fear of altered sensory perception.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Barrack RL, Skinner HB, Brunet ME, Haddad RJ., Jr Functional performance of the knee after intraarticular anesthesia. Am J Sports Med. 1983 Jul-Aug;11(4):258–261. [PubMed]
  • Era P, Heikkinen E. Postural sway during standing and unexpected disturbance of balance in random samples of men of different ages. J Gerontol. 1985 May;40(3):287–295. [PubMed]
  • Stevens JC. Temperature and the two-point threshold. Somatosens Mot Res. 1989;6(3):275–284. [PubMed]

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