Can Med Assoc J. 1980 Jan; 122(2): 189-91.
Relief of dental pain by ice massage of the hand.
Patients suffering from acute dental pain were treated with ice massage of the web between the thumb and index finger of the hand on the same side as the painful region. Control groups received tactile massage alone or with explicit suggestion that the massage was intended to alleviate their pain. Changes in pain intensity produced by the procedures were measured with the McGill Pain Questionnaire. Ice massage decreased the intensity of the dental pain by 50% or more in the majority of patients. Furthermore, the pain reductions produced by ice massage were significantly larger than those produced by tactile massage alone or with explicit suggestion. The results indicate that ice massage has pain-reducing effects comparable to those of transcutaneous electrical stimulation and acupuncture. The fact that cold signals are transmitted to the spinal cord exclusively by A-delta fibres and not by C fibres provides a potential method for differentiating the various feedback systems that mediate analgesia produced by different forms of intense sensory input. Ice massage provides a simple method for the palliative control of pain in dental clinics.