Cryotherapy—What it is and Why it Can Help
In its most simplistic definition, Cryotherapy is the practice of using cold temperatures for the health benefits they offer. This method of temperature therapy has been around for a couple hundred years in different forms to assist with ailments like muscle pain, muscle spasms, and improve recovery speeds after injury or overexertion. In fact, athletes have been utilizing temperature therapy by soaking in cold tubs full of ice for decades in order to decrease their recovery time and ease the ache of sore muscles.
However, in recent years temperature therapy has become less of a casual cure for everyday aches and pains and more of a full on medical treatment used by licensed medical professionals all around the world. Whole Body Cryotherapy or WBC as it’s often called is a specialized chamber that uses liquid nitrogen—instead of garden variety ice cubes—to administer temperature therapy to patients with ailments such as chronic pain.
Localized cryotherapy is a type of temperature therapy that offers a more targeted approach by applying cold compresses directly to the immediately affected area. This process reduces inflammation by constricting the blood vessels in the area affected by injury and intercepts pain responses from reaching the brain. In a certain sense, Cryotherapy has a way of pressing the reset button on the body. Localized treatments provides more immediate relief and can be used in combination with whole body cryotherapy to increase recovery speeds and pain relief.
If a patient is experiencing symptoms of a muscle spasm or perhaps just recently sustained a soft tissue injury, cryotherapy offers a new opportunity to assist in the reduction of swelling and added injury in the initial stages of the healing process. Cryotherapy is relatively inexpensive and is a procedure that can be done at home as well as at a doctor’s appointment depending on whether localized or whole body cryotherapy is recommended.
Cryotherapy has effectively assisted in treating:
- Herniated discs
- Chronic Inflammation (from autoimmune or other diseases)
- Improved post-surgical recovery
- Depression and fatigue
- Muscle spasms
- Back pain
- Multiple Sclerosis
Cryotherapy offers an inexpensive, very safe, and non-invasive alternative to risky surgeries and costly medications. Several studies have shown that cryotherapy procedures are effective, harmless, and has minimal to no complications. The main concern with cryotherapy being that temperatures can sometimes reach a critical low, but new technology is being developed to give medical professionals more accurate control over the procedures they perform on their patients.
Of course since cryotherapy offers acute pain relief from a number of different ailments it is considered a very successful alternative to long term medication prescriptions. While some conditions are severe enough to warrant the use of medication in conjunction with cryotherapy, many patients report cryotherapy’s ability to allow medication to be slowly phased out of their recovery regimen. Pain pills, while they serve a very important purpose, often leave patients feeling groggy and fatigued which does not facilitate an ideal climate for an effective healing process.