Learn More About The “Cool” Treatment Patients Are Using to Freeze Pain in Its Tracks
Cryotherapy is the coolest health trend on the market. Reality TV stars, A-list celebrities and high-profile athletes like Kobe Bryant and Labron James sing its praises, but what is Cryotherapy and is it right for you?
Learn about the different types of cryotherapy, its benefits and risks before deciding on your treatment plan.
Localized Cryotherapy and Cryosurgery
The most common form of cryotherapy is the application of ice or cold packs to injuries. It’s believed that cooler temperatures reduce blood flow and alleviate pain, swelling and inflammation. This form of cryotherapy has been a standard practice among health professionals for years.
Cryosurgery is the use of very cold substances like liquid nitrogen to freeze and remove abnormal or diseased tissue like skin tags and moles.
Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC)
Unlike localized cryotherapy, WBC addresses the entire body. Created in Japan during the late 1970s by Toshima Yamaguchi, cryotherapy has been used to address many health conditions from minor injuries to certain cancers.
Popular for the past decade with European athletes, the U.S. is the first place to offer wide access to it.
Benefits of Cryotherapy
Whole body cryotherapy is widely used in sports medicine. It’s most often used to assist in the recovery of injuries and post-season recovery. According to a study published by the University of Ulster, there is evidence that cold-water immersion (WBC) reduces delayed onset muscle soreness after exercise compared with passive interventions involving rest.
In addition to its pain-relieving powers, recent research implicates that cryotherapy can mimic exercise, affecting myokines expression in a fashion similar to exercise. These findings may prove game changing for patients suffering from metabolic diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Research has shown that Cryotherapy provides exciting results when addressing musculoskeletal pain and inflammation. Health professionals use WBC to address pain and inflammation from conditions like:
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Pain relief from injuries
- Pinched nerves
- Chronic pain
In addition, cryotherapy has been used to address symptoms of stress, anxiety, aging and weight gain.
What to Expect
Whole body cryotherapy treatments involve exposing individuals to extremely cold dry air for two to four minutes. There are two common methods to achieve this – liquid nitrogen and refrigerated cold air.
The treatment involves standing in a tank, wearing minimal clothing while being bathed in liquid nitrogen or cold air. Clothing for men typically includes a pair of shorts, while women wear shorts and a crop top. Patients are given gloves, a headband to cover the ears, a nose and mouth mask, and special socks and shoes.
Risks and Side Effects
The risks of cryotherapy are low in adults. However, if cold temperatures are produced by evaporating liquid nitrogen, there is a risk of inert gas asphyxiation. Frostbite is a risk if instructions aren’t followed during treatment, so it’s important to listen carefully to the instructions provided by the administrator.
Cryotherapy is only growing in popularity. Is cryotherapy the best option for addressing your aches and pains? Not sure if you’re a good candidate for cryotherapy? Cosult your doctor or contact Dayton Dandes Medical Center to learn more and make your appointment.
Bleakley, Chris, et al. “Cold-Water Immersion (Cryotherapy) for Preventing and Treating Muscle Soreness after Exercise.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2010, doi: 10.1002/14651858.cd008262.
Lombardi, et al. “Whole-Body Cryotherapy in Athletes: From Therapy to Stimulation. An Updated Review of the Literature.” Frontiers in Physiology, 2017, doi: 10.3389/fphys.
Unger, Jacob G. (2017, July 17). Cryotherapy. MedScape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/ article/1125851-overview