Benefits of Cryo Therapy
The technique of cryotherapy involves exposing the body to freezing temperatures for a certain period and is derived from the term “cold therapy.” It can either be localized to one specific area or encompass the whole body. Localized cryotherapy can be done through different methods such as ice massage, ice packs, coolant sprays, ice baths, or probes that are administered into the tissue.
Whole-body cryotherapy (WBC) is the theory that immersing the body in extremely cold air for a few minutes can provide several health benefits. The process involves standing in an enclosed chamber or small enclosure with an opening at the top for the head, and the temperature inside will drop to between negative 200–300°F. The individual will remain in the ultra-low temperature air for two to four minutes.
A single session of cryotherapy can provide benefits, but regular use is more effective. Some athletes have two sessions per day, while others have daily sessions for ten days and then once a month thereafter.
Benefits of cryotherapy
Decreases the symptoms of migraines
The application of cryotherapy can aid in the treatment of migraines by cooling and desensitizing the nerves located in the neck region. According to a study, utilizing a neck wrap that contains two frozen ice packs to the carotid arteries situated in the neck region significantly decreased migraine pain in the subjects examined. This is believed to function by cooling the blood passing through the intracranial vessels. Since the carotid arteries are near the skin’s surface and easily accessible, this technique is practical.
Numbs nerve irritation
Cryotherapy has been a go-to treatment for athletes dealing with injuries for quite some time, as it possesses the ability to alleviate pain. The cold temperature can desensitize an inflamed nerve. Doctors typically use a small probe inserted into the surrounding tissue to treat the injured area, which can be beneficial for treating pinched nerves, neuromas, chronic pain, and even sudden injuries.
Could potentially aid in the treatment of low-risk tumors
Localized cryotherapy can be utilized as a cancer treatment called “cryosurgery,” where it targets and freezes cancer cells and encases them with ice crystals. Cryosurgery is being used to treat specific types of cancer, including low-risk tumors for prostate cancer.
Beneficial in averting dementia and Alzheimer's disease
Although further research is required to assess the efficiency of this approach, whole-body cryotherapy is believed to have the potential to prevent Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The reason for this is that cryotherapy’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant impacts might help fight the inflammatory and oxidative stress reactions that occur with Alzheimer’s, according to some theories.
Assists in the treatment of mood disorders
The extremely low temperatures used in whole-body cryotherapy can trigger physiological hormonal reactions, including the discharge of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and endorphins. This can have a favorable impact on individuals with mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression. In fact, a study has shown that whole-body cryotherapy is effective in the short-term treatment of both anxiety and depression.
Reduces arthritic pain
Treating serious conditions through cryotherapy is not limited to localized applications alone. In a study, it was discovered that whole-body cryotherapy considerably lessened pain levels in individuals with arthritis. The treatment was found to be well-tolerated and even enabled more intensive physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Consequently, this increased the efficacy of rehabilitation programs.
Cryotherapy as a Treatment for Atopic Dermatitis and Other Skin Conditions
Cryotherapy has the potential to aid in the treatment of atopic dermatitis, a chronic inflammatory skin condition that is characterized by dry and itchy skin. This is due to cryotherapy’s ability to enhance antioxidant levels in the blood and alleviate inflammation. Both localized and whole-body cryotherapy may be effective in treating this condition. Additionally, a study conducted on mice investigated cryotherapy’s impact on acne by targeting the sebaceous glands.
Risks and side effects
The most frequent side effects of cryotherapy, regardless of the method, include temporary numbness, tingling, redness, and skin irritation. If these symptoms persist beyond 24 hours, it is advisable to consult a doctor immediately.
It is essential not to exceed the recommended treatment duration, which varies depending on the type of cryotherapy applied. For whole-body cryotherapy, the maximum time is four minutes, while for ice packs or ice baths, it is 20 minutes. To avoid skin damage, always wrap ice packs with a towel.
Individuals with conditions that affect their nerves or diabetes should avoid using cryotherapy. They may not fully feel the treatment’s effects, which could cause further nerve damage.
Tips and Recommendations for Using Cryotherapy
Make sure to discuss any conditions you wish to treat with cryotherapy with the person administering your treatment, and consult with your doctor beforehand. When receiving whole-body cryotherapy, wear dry, loose-fitting clothing and bring socks and gloves to protect against frostbite. Try to move around during the therapy to promote blood flow.
If you are undergoing cryosurgery, your doctor will provide specific instructions on how to prepare for the procedure, which may include fasting for 12 hours prior to treatment.
Takeaway & Conclusion
Although there is anecdotal evidence and some research supporting the potential health benefits of cryotherapy, whole-body cryotherapy is still an area of ongoing research. Therefore, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider or doctor to determine if it is a suitable option for you.