Knee Ice Wraps

Written By: Chloe Wilson, BSc(Hons) Physiotherapy
Reviewed by: KPE Medical Review Board

A knee ice wrap can be really helpful with episodes of knee pain or after an injury. Find out how they work and which ones work best

Knee ice wraps are a great way to reduce inflammation, swelling and pain associated with knee injuries and longer term knee conditions such as arthritis.

Regularly applying ice will not only help to decrease pain and swelling, it can also help to speed up healing.

There are loads of different ways to apply ice therapy and here we will look at the most popular ice wraps.

They range from single-use disposable packs to specially designed ice bags, inserts for knee braces to high quality cryotherapy. Different styles will work best in different situations.

Different Types Of Knee Ice Wrap

There are five different types of ice wraps covered here and you can compare models, read reviews and find the best one for you:

  1. Ice Bags: Simply fill with ice/water and apply.  Reusable material bag
  2. Compression/Ice Packs: Combine ice therapy with compression
  3. Reusable Ice/Heat Packs: Choose between cold or heat therapy
  4. Instant Ice Packs: Perfect for out and about. No prep time
  5. Cryocuff: Top of the range ice therapy. Particularly good after knee surgery

To find out more how cold therapy works and how to use it safely and effectively, visit the Ice Treatment section.

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1. Reusable Ice Bags

Reusable ice bags are a great way for applying knee ice wraps

Reusable Ice Bags can be filled with ice cubes, crushed ice or cold water. The pleated design allows the bag to easily conform to the shape of your knee (or other limb) so you get the benefit of the ice where you need it most.

The cap means you don’t have to worry about leaking as the ice melts – you get the benefit of the cold without getting soggy!

They are reusable and extremely economical. And they are available in a whole range of sizes, colors and designs for adults and kids too - there are some particularly cute animal ones for children! You can even get specially designed Ice Bag Strap Belts that fit around these ice bags to hold them in place.

Popular, good quality reusable ice bags prices start at $8/£7 and typically have average user ratings of 4.7/5. Find Out More >

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2. Combined Compression/Ice Therapy

You can also get knee ice wraps that provide compression as well as cold therapy thus gaining the advantage of two elements of PRICE at the same time.

These styles have velcro straps so you can secure them in place and control the amount of compression. They are especially useful if you are moving around or if you are struggling to keep your knee ice wrap in the right place.

Here are two of our favourite compression knee ice wraps:

Knee Brace With Ice Pack

The Neeca Knee Ice Wrap Brace is perfect for providing cold therapy, compression and support to an injured knee

Knee Braces With Inbuilt Ice Packs are an excellent choice for pain relief and injury recovery. Not only do you get the benefits of ice therapy, you can also control the level of compression and support around the knee with adjustable straps on the brace. 

This helps to provide pain relief, reduces knee swelling and offers some support to an injured knee making it the perfect choice with ligament sprains, knee swelling, sports injuries and muscle aches.

Simply chill the gel packs in the freezer for a couple of hours and slide them into the special slots in the knee brace to provide cold therapy all around the knee. You also have to option to heat the gel pads up to get the benefits of heat therapy making this style extremely versatile.

The Vive Knee Brace With Ice Pack Wrap is one of the most popular in this group, costing around $28/£27, and comes with a 60 day money back guarantee and average user ratings of 4.7/5. Find Out More >

Compression Ice Wrap

Compression Knee Ice Wraps

Knee Compression Ice Wraps have an attached hand pump so that you can easily compress and customise the level of pressure by adding and releasing air as desired. This helps the knee ice wrap to contour the knee better and ensures excellent contact between the ice gel pack and the affected knee for a deeper treatment.

The removable, reusable gel packs can be cooled in the freezer or warmed up in the microwave. They are leakproof and contain non-toxic gel. One size fits most and they can be used on either the left or right knee. They often come with a spare gel pack so you can keep one in the freezer at all times.

The two most popular brands of Knee Compression Ice Wraps on the market are Vive and Simply JNJ costing around $37/£32 and have average user ratings of 4.4/5. Find Out More >

3. Reusable Hot/Cold Pack Sets

Reusable Hot/Cold Packs often come in sets offering excellent versatility

Reusable Hot/Cold Packs are another great type of knee ice wrap and have the added advantage that they can be used hot or cold, depending on what you are wanting.

If you want to use them as a knee ice wrap, simply place them in the freezer for a couple of hours then wrap them in a towel and place them on your knee. Most of these can also be heated up in the microwave if you prefer using heat rather than ice. 

Good quality versions are mouldable even when frozen so they fit well and they stay cold for longer than regular ice packs. The quality of the pack material varies affecting comfort and durability, so make sure you choose a good brand. 

Many Reusable Hot/Cold Packs come in sets containing packs of different shapes and sizes making them perfect for different joints and for using on the go costing around $17/£16/€18. Some also contain washable covers and elastic straps. Our favourites are the TrekProof, WorldBio, Revix, AllSett Health & Com-Four sets with average user ratings of 4.6/5. Find Out More >

4. Instant Cold Packs

Instant Cold Packs: Perfect knee ice wraps for any injury

Instant Cold Packs are great for immediate first aid treatment, wherever you are – no need for a freezer to get them cold! They contain special granules and a pouch containing the cold activating liquid.

All you do is squeeze or twist the center of the flexible pack to release the contents of the inner pouch and it reacts with the granules to make the pack instantly cold. They generally last about twenty minutes and are single use.

These are great for taking out and about and a perfect addition to any first aid kit for emergencies - I keep one in my car ready for the various sporting injuries my kids pick up!

Instant Cold Packs come in various sizes and are usually sold in packs of 6 (costing around $10/£7) or more cost effectively in packs of 25 (costing around $21/£14). Average user ratings 4.6/5. Find Out More >

5. Cryo Cuff Knee Ice Wrap System

knee cryocuff 330 opt dec 23

The Cryo Cuff Knee Ice Wrap is the most sophisticated solution on the market and whilst it's simple enough to be used at home, it is effective enough to be used by professional athletes and hospitals.

It can be used after knee surgery and/or after knee injuries to reduce knee pain and swelling, and aid the natural healing process.

Knee Cryo Cuffs really come into their own if you are wanting multiple periods of cold therapy during the day without wanting to be going backwards and forwards to the freezer all the time.

They are particularly good if your mobility is limited e.g. after knee surgery or injury, or if you are going to be out e.g. at work, as they stay cold for hours. 

The system consists of an insulated bucket that you fill with ice and cold water, which connects to a cuff that you position around your knee.

Strap the cuff around your knee with the velcro straps and simply attach the cuff to the cooler, placing the cooler higher than the cuff (less than 15”). Open the airvent and gravity then causes the cuff to fill with ice cold fluid (in about 15 seconds). Close the airvent and detach the hose.

Once the cuff starts to lose its coolness, simply reconnect the cooler, and place it below the level of the cuff so it drains completely. Wait a minute or so, and then refill the cuff as before with fresh ice cold water from the cooler.

The Knee Cryo Cuff system is simple to use, quiet, easy to carry and fully adjustable. The Donjoy Aircast is the original and the one most commonly used in hospitals, there are now a few other brands on the market that work in very similar ways. Prices start at $125/£99. Find Out More >

Some brands, like the ones from PhysioNatural and ArcticIce have larger ice reserves and inbuilt timers with automatic shut-off so you don't have to worry about icing your knee for too long if you get distracted or fall asleep with the cuff on which is really helpful. The water also feeds in through an electric pump rather than gravity which keeps the cold water circulating much better but can be slightly noisy. Average user rating 4.5/5. Find Out More >

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What Else Can Help?

Knee ice wraps are just one way to reduce pain and swelling and it is important to use it safely and effectively otherwise you can actually make things worse - find out more in the ice treatment section. For other great treatment options, visit the knee treatment section.

If you want some help working out what is wrong with your knee, visit the diagnosis section.

You may also be interested in the following articles:

Page Last Updated: 22/05/24
Next Review Due: 22/05/26

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*Prices correct as of June 2024.  All prices are subject to change.  Please note we do not stock products directly and therefore have no control over price changes.  See advertising policy for more information.