We believe that the Ossur Cold Rush Cold Therapy System is the best cold therapy machine we tested after 19 hours of research, surveys, crowdsourcing and a good amount of hands-on-testing over the course of 4 weeks. We had a firsthand experience on how effective it was at consistently delivering chilled water over the injured area. We believe that using this machine will make a huge difference when you’re recovering from a surgery or severe injury. It will definitely aid your sleeping habits since its pain relief is almost instant which means having to take in less medication that promotes a more natural and pain-free recovery.

We know that recovering from a serious surgery or injury is more of a waiting game than anything. And that there’s nothing you want to do more than move like you used to and wish for your recovery to be quick, safe, and effective. We’re here to give you the best cold therapy machine that we found based on hours of research and hands-on-testing. We want only what’s best for you, and that’s what we’re here for.

Sit back, relax, and let us tell you which cold therapy machine is the best.


The Best Cold Therapy Machine 2018

Product NameRunning TimeWeightDimensions
Active Ice Therapy System 2.030 minutes5.5 lbs.16 x 9.5 x 8.5 inches
Ossur Cold Rush Cold Therapy System6 hours5 lbs.18 x 10 x 12 inches
Cryotherapy Arctic Ice Cold Water Therapy6 to 8 hours5.5 lbs. 14 x 14 x 10 inches
ARS Aqua Relief System7 to 8 hours6 lbs. W= 4 inches L= 6 inches
Aircast Non-Motorized Cryo Cuff Cold Therapy6 to 8 hours2.2 lbs.12.5 x 12.4 x 12 inches


How Does a Cold Therapy Machine Work?

Cold therapy machines are a step up from the traditional ice pack and static compression. It supplies active compression and therapeutic cold to your injury which helps you recover faster.

Cold therapy machines continuously circulate cold water by means of an ice reservoir. As your body warms the water flowing through the machine, cold water is carried in to supplant it. This will consistently provide the same cool temperature needed throughout the treatment.

Covering an entire injured area can be difficult with traditional ice packs – cold therapy machines are specially designed to solve this type of problem. They include wraps to provide cold therapy to your entire joint, and it conforms to your body because it covers more surface area.


What Do You Need to Consider Before Buying a Cold Therapy Machine?

We have listed a few criteria you should be considering before choosing your first cold therapy machine.

1. Quality

It’s a good idea to consider choosing a higher quality machine that will deliver a more effective treatment which will help accelerate your recovery. Another plus is that higher quality machines tend to last longer than their cut-rate counterparts.

Good quality cold therapy machines are able to regulate and maintain the right therapeutic temperature throughout your treatment. You will gain long-lasting benefits without any risk of worsening your injury.

2. Noise

The typical duration of a cold therapy treatment is around 3 to 4 hours a day for 4 to 4 weeks following a serious injury or surgery. You can opt for more if your injury is severe enough to merit treatment all through the night.

Sleeping will be difficult if your machine is too loud. And if you choose to do the treatment during the day, it will be hard to concentrate on your tasks with a noisy machine.

3. Wrap Vs. Pad

If you have an injured joint, consider picking a machine with a wrap attachment instead of a pad. A wrap attachment covers more surface area allowing better exposure and a more functional treatment.

This is because wraps deliver the cold to every surface of the damaged area above and below penetrating deeper and more evenly to reach your injured tissues more effectively.

4. Running Time

It would be a good idea to choose a model that is capable of running for a good amount of time. Especially if your injury requires treatment throughout the night.


How Did We Assess and Evaluate These Products?

Our cold therapy machine hunt began by visiting all the clinics we could find in a 30-mile radius. We also visited about 8 different pharmacies to determine which products were widely available to buyers in the local market.

As we had initially expected, there were a lot of different cold therapy machines out there and each had various features, capacity, and target areas.

We pursued narrowing the list down by establishing the common buying criteria based on feedbacks we gathered from family, friends, readers, and colleagues.

The criteria we established were quality, noise, running time, durability, power usage, portability, and type of attachment.

Following the criteria established, we then rated each of the 12 cold therapy machines we had on our list eliminating some brands that had a lot of negative feedbacks. Then we directed our assessment to narrow the top 5 among the 12 candidates.

We made sure that our top 5 were not based on the price nor the product that had the most features. We selected the machines that had all the necessary features you’ll need for treatment like quality, specs, and performance.

The qualitative and quantitative aspects of each product were carefully evaluated to ensure we were recommending the right machines for you.


Our Top Picks

1. Ossur Cold Rush Cold Therapy System– Editor’s Choice

Click on the image to view the product on Amazon

This machine impressed us with how little noise it made that we sometimes forgot that it was turned on. We noticed that on some injuries the swelling went down faster than normal. That garnered a lot of points in our book. One of our injured co-workers also used this overnight and was fairly impressed at how quiet it hummed in the background while he slept. He was even surprised at how much it reduced his swelling upon waking up the following day.

When we tried it ourselves, we found that using iced water bottles was more convenient than running to and from the local grocery store in the area just to get ice. It saved us a lot of time from having to dump all the melted ice from the reservoir mainly because once the iced water bottles melted, the slush stayed inside the bottle container. A tip is to always check the tubing for pinches especially at times when you move a lot. Pinching or slight twisting will cause the machine to stop delivering cold water to your injured area.

What We Liked

  • Fairly quiet with its 30-decibel brushless motor
  • Will help with pain thus reducing the number of pain medicine intake 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Some people have reported that the tubing will condensate and sweat
  • Misleading and inadequate instructions on how to use the device
  • Some reported that the accessories were difficult to use

2. ARS Aqua Relief System – 1st Runner Up

ARS Aqua Relief System

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This ARS Aqua Relief System is definitely one of the good ones. Ice packs simply melt, fall off and have hard chunks of ice that causes your skin to burn. This machine is a great alternative. We mostly gathered feedback that this machine (when taken care of) lasts up to 3 surgeries. We visited those who used the ARS Aqua Relief System and they mostly had a lot of positive things to say. Especially those who used it after their surgery.

We were able to see how much it helped their swelling and soreness, especially after a hard session of exercises and bends in a typical physical therapy session. We were surprised at how well it relieved our aching body parts. However, the universal pad that comes along with this machine is a bit on the small side. The bandage gives a lot of compressions which pretty much relieves pain in an instant.

What We Liked

  • Works really well in reducing swelling and soreness
  • Well built. Only a few reports about leakage. 
  • Has holes to attach a shoulder strap. Very portable

What We Didn’t Like

  • No handle which makes it difficult to pump water from the reservoir
  • The pump takes a lot of space inside which limits the space for more ice
  • The pad that comes along is a little bit on the small side

3. Active Ice Therapy System 2.0 – 2nd Runner Up

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We found this product to be quite satisfying. There’s a thin layer of cloth that protects the skin from the product which ensures maximum cooling without leaving the wrap in direct contact with our skin. Although a bit noisy than the other machines on our list, after a few tests though, we were able to get used to the noise and doze off. We also found that laying on top of the pad puts too much pressure on the pump and will likely ruin it so that’s one important thing to take note of.

We tried it on one of our colleagues who, consequently, had a knee replacement surgery recently. And he said that it really helped with the pain and swelling. There were also instances when we needed to level the machine to where we placed our cuff for the water to circulate successfully. But overall, we give it a thumbs up for having the capacity to do its job properly.

What We Liked

  • Large ice reservoir with 9-quart cooler
  • Has an adjustable control for temperature flow 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Some people have reported that the machine is noisy
  • There were a number of users that said the cycle time runs for less than 30 minutes
  • Some were frustrated that they had to restart it every 30 minutes

4. Cryotherapy Arctic Ice Cold Water Therapy

Cryotherapy Cold Therapy Machine

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Evaluating the Cryotherapy Arctic Ice Cold Water Therapy machine went like a breeze. We mostly observed how it worked on family members who recently had surgery and their feedback was that it did a lot better than using an ice pack by hand. This device is great when you need to tone down a lot of swelling on inflamed areas of your injury. Especially post-operation cases.

It has proven to keep the pain and swelling down on most of the subjects we used it on. We also conducted local surveys on how each machine worked for those who had it. Mostly they have used the machine for 3 to 4 months and it still worked quite well. That was definitely a huge plus.

Although there was some critical feedback about how their universal pad was not so universal at all. So we tested it and we did find that there were certain areas in the body which were hard to cover up such as wrapping it around the foot or keeping it in place on the shoulder area.

What We Liked

  • Low humming sound of the motor is relaxing
  • Can continuously supply cold water for up to 7 hours straight 

What We Didn’t Like

  • The universal pad is hard to keep in place on certain areas of the body
  • Some have been reports that the device breaks after more than 9 months of use
  • Reports stated that when the machine got clogged, it got noticeably louder

5. Aircast Non-Motorized Cryo Cuff Cold Therapy

Aircast Non-Motorized Cryo Cuff Cold Therapy

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This gravity-fed non-motorized machine is integrated to combine focal compression and cold efficiently. We were able to see how it delivered chilled water straight into the cuff during our tests. Some subjects we interviewed stated this machine has helped them after a rigorous physical therapy session on their post-operation recovery.

We also tried this during our co-worker’s ankle rehabilitation. She gave us a well-documented review about how it managed her pain and minimized swelling. She also emphasized how convenient the included cuff could be worn on either leg. This is a good alternative when you have a splint or a cast since its cuff is adjustable.

What We Liked

  • Boot cuff is easy to assemble
  • Once elevated, the insulated container will give a higher amount of compression 
  • Dropping the device below the air cast will allow the warm water to drain

What We Didn’t Like

  • Does not circulate
  • Some have reported that the boot is too big and will not effectively cool their front ankle
  • The pad that comes along is a little bit on the small side


Our Recommendations:

Editor’s Pick: Ossur Cold Rush Cold Therapy System

It was difficult to choose which product was the best. After carefully evaluating and assessing the top 5 in our list, we came to the conclusion that if we were to get a cold therapy machine, we’d have to go for the Ossur Cold Rush Cold Therapy System.

It’s a patient favorite with its whisper quiet and holistic design, durable motor, and robust flow rate. We tried it, we tested it and this machine did not disappoint. It helps more than any pain medications can and the relief is almost instant and continuous.

Runners-Up: ARS Aqua Relief System & Active Ice Therapy System 2.0

The ARS Aqua Relief System came in second with its ability to control and suit your comfort level. We think it’s the next best machine to get if you have reservations on our top pick. Additionally, it has heating capabilities.

The Active Ice Therapy System 2.0’s quiet, steady and effective cooling features have snagged the 3rd place among the best. It provides the right amount of compression while efficiently insulating the target area. Which makes for an effective drug-free pain relief.