The Best Ice Packs to Soothe Sore Knees and Speed Up Recovery

Whether you’re recovering from a sports injury, healing from knee surgery, or suffering from a chronic condition like arthritis, cold therapy is one of the best ways to reduce pain, decrease inflammation, and ease stiff muscles.

In this post, we’ll look at the benefits of using ice packs for knee injuries, and discuss which features you should be looking out for in a good pack.

We’ll also review the top ice packs currently on the market.

Why Use Ice Packs for the Knee?

If you’ve ever injured your knee, you’ve probably heard of the RICE method of treatment for soft tissue injuries.

RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation.

While more research is needed in order to confirm the effectiveness of RICE in helping heal muscle and other soft-tissue injuries, this treatment method is thought to help reduce inflammation, ease muscle stiffness, and relieve the pain associated with knee strains, sprains, ligament tears, and other common knee injuries  [1].

Ice packs for the knee satisfy at least one component of the RICE method of recovery: ice.

Ice packs come in a wide variety of styles, however, many of which also provide another essential component of the RICE treatment method: compression.

In the following sections, we’ll look at the different types of ice packs that are available for the knee and what features to look for when purchasing a pack.

Types of Ice Packs

There are three basic types of ice packs for knees: ice bags, knee wraps, and knee sleeves.

  • Ice bag – This is the most basic type of ice pack. It can either be filled with ice or water. Ice bags are inexpensive and versatile, but they may “sweat” as the ice inside melts.
  • Knee wrap – A knee wrap provides 360-degree cooling therapy and usually features straps that can be adjusted for extra compression.
  • Knee sleeve – Sleeves are typically thinner than wraps and can be easily concealed under everyday clothing, but due to their slim-fitting design, they usually do not stay cold as long as knee wraps.

What to Look for When Buying an Ice Pack

Ice packs come in a variety of styles, materials, and compression levels.

In this section, we’ll cover a few basic features that you should be looking for when choosing the best ice pack for your needs.

Fit

An ice pack that is not tight enough won’t provide the compression needed to reduce inflammation and pain.

On the other hand, a pack that’s too tight may injure your knee further.

Sizing varies by manufacturer, so it’s important to refer to the sizing chart to be sure you’re buying the right size pack for your leg.

Material 

Ice packs are made from many different materials, including fleece, neoprene, and polyester.

The right material for you will depend on personal preference, but you should choose an ice pack made from a soft, high-quality fabric that will insulate your skin from the cold.

Flexibility

The flexibility of an ice pack will determine its ideal use.

Some packs are flexible and allow for full range of motion, while others completely immobilize the knee and are intended to be used while stationary.

Price

The most durable and effective ice packs are made from high-quality materials, and this is reflected in their price. That said, there are some less expensive options that will do the job.

Avoid cheaply made ice packs made from materials that don’t properly insulate the skin.


The Best Ice Packs for Knees

Now that you’ve decided what features you need in an ice pack, it’s time to review the best packs that are currently available on the market.

We’ve based our selections on durability, price, versatility, and overall customer satisfaction.

1. Shock Doctor ICE Recovery Compression Knee Wrap

Sale
Shock Doctor ICE Recovery Compression Knee Wrap
  • Anatomically designed with adjustable straps and...
  • The penetrating therapy helps reduce swelling and...
  • Includes 3 (S/M) or 4 (L/XL) removable and...

Pros

  • Adjustable straps for customized compression and fit
  • Can also be used for heat therapy
  • Features multiple gel packs for 360-degree coverage


Cons

  • Not ideal for use when performing everyday tasks
  • Ice packs tend to slide out of pockets

The Shock Doctor’s ICE Recovery Compression Knee Wrap combines cold therapy with gentle compression to reduce swelling and aid in the recovery of strains, sprains, and tendonitis.

The wrap features adjustable Z-grip straps and comes with removable, reusable gel packs that can also be warmed up to provide heat therapy.

The ICE Recovery Compression Knee Wrap provides 360-degree cooling therapy, which helps reduce swelling quickly and makes the wrap ideal for use when recovering from post-workout soreness.

This wrap immobilizes the knee joint, however, so it may not be the best choice for those who want to be able to continue performing their daily activities while treating an injured knee.


2. ActiveWrap Ice/Heat Therapy Wrap For Knee

Ice / Heat Therapy Wrap For Left / Right Knees - Large / Xtra Large - Great For Knee Sprains,...
  • PICK THE CORRECT SIZE - Size Small / Medium fits...
  • REMOVABLE GEL PACKS - ActiveWrap hot / cold knee...
  • SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED FOR THE KNEE - Patented...

Pros

  • Won’t bunch up or slide down
  • Provides 360-degree cooling therapy
  • Aids in recovery from knee surgery
  • Patented DLP divider for temperature control


Cons

  • Immobilizes the knee joint

Like the Shock Doctor’s ICE Recovery Compression Knee Wrap, the Ice/Heat Therapy Wrap completely immobilizes the knee joint, which helps promote faster healing but also limits mobility.

It also has reusable gel packs that can be frozen or heated to provide 360-degree cooling or heat therapy.

What makes this wrap different than its competitor is its patented DLP divider, which allows you to adjust the temperature of your cold therapy by 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Ice/Heat Therapy Wrap by ActiveWrap is ideal for athletes, joggers, cyclists, hikers, and anyone else who engages in high-impact activities. It is also ideal for use after knee surgery.


3. Flexikold Gel Ice Pack

Sale
FlexiKold Gel Ice Pack (Standard Large: 10.5" x 14.5") - One (1) Reusable Cold Therapy Pack (For...
  • 4 SIZES: Standard Large, Oversize, Half size, and...
  • COLDER FOR LONGER: Proprietary gel cold pack stays...
  • MORE FLEXIBLE: The Most Flexible Cold Pack...

Pros

  • Available in a wide range of sizes
  • Flexible even when frozen
  • Leak-proof design


Cons

  • Gel tends to shift around
  • May not be cold enough for some

What sets the FlexiKold Gel Ice Pack apart from other ice packs on our list is that it remains flexible, even when frozen.

This not only helps the pack conform more easily to the knee, but it also makes the pack suitable for use when performing just about any activity.

The ice pack is filled with a special gel that stays cold longer than traditional bentonite formula, but some customers have mentioned that the gel doesn’t get cold enough to provide effective pain relief.

Another frequent complaint is that the gel tends to shift around in the pack, which can make targeting an injury more difficult.


4. übertherm Knee Pain Relief Cold Wrap

Sale
übertherm Knee Pain Relief Cold Wrap: New Technology Compression Ice Pack for Unique Sting-Free...
  • PHYSIOLOGIC DESIGN. übertherm cools without...
  • ICE PILLOW TECHNOLOGY. Unique thermal composite...
  • ULTRA LONG-LASTING. The übertherm cold gel pack...

Pros

  • Targeted, sting-free cold therapy
  • Provides compression and stability
  • Can be worn while performing everyday tasks


Cons

  • Only available in one size
  • Ice packs not flexible enough

Over-icing the knee can trigger an injury response that makes inflammation worse and impedes healing.

Übertherm’s Knee Pain Relief Cold Wrap is specially designed to prevent over-icing made from conducting and insulating materials that help deliver a more consistent and sting-free cold therapy experience.

The wrap never cools below 1 degree Fahrenheit, thanks to a unique thermal composite pocket that holds the included ice packs snugly against your skin while ensuring optimal thermal transfer for up to 60 minutes.

The Knee Pain Relief Cold Wrap is ideal for use by athletes between activity or in addition to physical therapy.

Its flexible design allows enough joint movement for walking and performing other light activities.

Some customers have complained, however, that the cold packs are too rigid when frozen and make the wrap uncomfortable to wear.


5. Ohuhu Hot Cold Reusable Ice Bag

Ohuhu Hot Cold Ice Pack Reusable Ice Bag 3 Pack [11" 9" 6"] Hot Cold Therapy for Knee Leg Injury
  • THREE SIZES DESIGN: [Large (11"), Medium (9"),...
  • LEAK-RESISTANT LARGE OPENING CAP: The cap opening...
  • FAST RELIEF: Ideal for application of cold therapy...

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Available in three sizes
  • Can be filled with ice
  • Pliable design conforms to the body


Cons

  • Condensation may form on outside of the bag
  • May leak

The Hot Cold Ice Pack Reusable Ice Bag by Ohuhu is great for those who want immediate relief from pain and inflammation due to sport injuries, post-workout muscle tension, bruises, sprains and strains.

Simply fill the bag with crushed ice or ice cubes, then press the bag to the affected area.

One minor drawback of the Hot-Cold Ice Pack Reusable Ice Bag is that condensation tends to form on the outside of the bag, although this can easily be fixed by wrapping a towel around the bag.

Another concern is that despite having a “leak-proof” cap, some customers have reported that the bag tends to leak as the ice melts.

For its low price, though, the Hot-Cold Ice Pack is a great option for shorter cold therapy sessions.


6. Knee Ice Pack Wrap by TheraPAQ

Knee Ice Pack Wrap by TheraPAQ: Hot & Cold Therapy Knee Support Brace - Reusable Compression Sleeve...
  • SOLVE ALL OF YOUR KNEE PROBLEMS: Are your knees...
  • SAY GOODBYE TO PERSISTENT PAIN: There are many...
  • USE IT FOR BOTH HOT AND COLD THERAPY: The...

Pros

  • Adjustable Velcro straps
  • Flexible enough for use while performing daily activities
  • Can be used for both cold and heat therapy


Cons

  • Ice pack doesn’t fit properly in a wrap if frozen separately
  • Only available in one size

The TheraPAQ Knee Ice Pack is an excellent choice for athletes and fitness enthusiasts, as it allows full range of motion for sports and other high-intensity activities.

It is made from comfortable nylon and polyester, and features adjustable Velcro straps for adjusting the compression level.

One minor complaint that some customers have about this wrap is that the ice pack doesn’t fit properly into the sleeve when frozen separately.

The ice pack must be frozen inside of the wrap, which can be a hassle if you want to wear the sleeve for compression between icing sessions.

Overall, though, this wrap is a great choice for anyone who wants to benefit from cold therapy without stopping their daily activities.


7. Polar Ice Large Cold Therapy Knee Wrap

Sale
Polar Ice Large Knee Wrap Cold Therapy Wearable Ice Pack Adjustable Hook and Loop Closure (Color May...
  • Polar Ice products provide cold therapy for...
  • Hands free long lasting cold therapy
  • Soft. lightweight fleece covering to protect skin

Pros

  • Slim-fitting design
  • Waffled ice pack for faster freezing
  • 360-degree coverage
  • Lined with soft fleece
  • Universal design


Cons

  • Doesn’t stay cold long enough
  • Sizing tends to run small

With its lightweight construction, slim-fitting design, and adjustable Velcro closures, it’s easy to see why the Polar Ice Large Cold Therapy Knee Wrap is considered one of the most wearable wraps on the market.

It features water-filled ice packs that are encased in a soft, comfortable fleece material that not only conforms to the natural contours of the knee, but also insulates the skin to prevent stinging.

The ice pack has a waffled design to speed up the freezing time, but some customers have mentioned that the pack melts too quickly.

Another frequent complaint is that the sizing runs small, so you’ll want to be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s sizing guide before purchasing this wrap.


8. The Pain Soother Reusable Ice Pack for Knee

Reusable Ice Pack for Knee - Cold Therapy Compression Wrap with Air Pump for Pain Relief - Long...
  • UNMATCHED COLD RETENTION: Unlike other knee...
  • EXPERIENCE QUICKER RELIEF: This is one of the few...
  • DESIGNED FOR GREAT COVERAGE: Carefully crafted for...

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Inexpensive
  • Made from durable, high-quality materials
  • Removable ball pump


Cons

  • Must be worn over clothing
  • Does not provide full knee coverage

The Reusable Ice Pack by The Pain Soother is one of the few knee ice packs on the market that feature an air pump system for targeted compression and pain relief.

Recommended by orthopaedic surgeons, this ice pack is effective in managing pain from arthritis, sprains, sport injuries, and tendonitis.

In terms of price, the Reusable Ice Pack is relatively inexpensive – especially when you consider how durable it is.

Unlike some of the other wraps on our list, however, this ice pack does not provide 360-degree cold therapy. Another minor annoyance is that the pack must be worn over clothing.


9. NatraCure Hot/Cold & Air Compression Knee Brace Support

NatraCure Hot/Cold & Air Compression Knee Brace Support - (6022 CAT) - Alleviates Knee Pain from...
  • NO PRESCRIPTION REQUIRED: Same technology of our...
  • HELPS ALLEVIATE PAIN during recovery from knee...
  • COLD COMPRESSION THERAPY: Chill in freezer or...

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Filled with medical-grade ThermoActive gel
  • Detachable air pump


Cons

  • Only available in one size

Like many of the other knee ice packs on our list, The NatraCure Hot/Cold & Air Compression Knee Brace provides compression as well as cooling or heating therapy to promote faster recovery from sprains strains, ligament tears, tendinitis, and knee surgery.

Like The Pain Soother’s Reusable Ice Pack, the NatraCure Hot/Cold & Air Compression Knee Brace utilizes air pump system for more uniform compression.

This ice pack is great at delivering targeted pain relief, but we would have liked to see a wider range of sizes. Currently, only one size is available that fits knees up to a circumference of 21 inches.


10. FreezeSleeve Cold Therapy Compression Sleeve

FreezeSleeve Cold Therapy Compression Sleeve - Natural Pain Relief Sleeve for Muscles & Joints -...
  • TOTAL COMPRESSION COVERAGE: While other cold packs...
  • DOCTOR RECOMMENDED: Freeze Sleeve is recommended...
  • MADE IN USA: All Freeze Sleeves are made in...

Pros

  • Available in a wide range of sizes
  • Can be used on other parts of the body
  • Easy to clean
  • Allows for full mobility


Cons

  • Expensive
  • Doesn’t stay cold long enough

The Cold Therapy Compression Sleeve by FreezeSleeve is made from a unique material that allows the sleeve to be worn safely and comfortably against bare skin.

It is available in a wide range of sizes, from small to triple extra large, and can be used on other parts of the body besides the knee – such as the elbow, ankle, or wrist.

We love the slim-fitting design of the FreezeSleeve, which allows the brace to be easily concealed under everyday clothing, but some customers have reported that the sleeve doesn’t stay cold long enough.


Our Pick: Polar Ice Large Cold Therapy Knee Wrap

Sale
Polar Ice Large Knee Wrap Cold Therapy Wearable Ice Pack Adjustable Hook and Loop Closure (Color May...
  • Polar Ice products provide cold therapy for...
  • Hands free long lasting cold therapy
  • Soft. lightweight fleece covering to protect skin

In terms of durability, performance, and price, the Polar Ice Cold Therapy Knee Wrap provides the best value of all of the knee wraps we’ve reviewed in this post.

Its slim-fitting design makes the wrap comfortable enough to wear all day, while its flexible construction allows you to continue your daily activities.

Conclusion

The ice packs we’ve reviewed in this post encompass the wide range of products that are available to provide soothing cold therapy, whether you’re at home, at work, or on the go.

Consider using one of these packs, either alone or in conjunction with other knee supports like compression sleeves and hinged braces, to reduce inflammation and speed recovery from knee injuries.

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