Cryotherapy applies cold temperatures to an area or the entire body to freeze or destroy abnormal tissue. Cold therapy has been used as a treatment method for inflammation, arthritis, skin damage, pain relief, prostate and liver cancer, and tissue damage.
Whole-body cryotherapy (WBC) theorists have found evidence that exposing the body to extremely low temperatures, between negative 200-400 degrees Fahrenheit, for two to four minutes has some health benefits. Patients’ bodies are enclosed in a chamber with an opening for the head at the top. The chamber is filled with cold air cooled by liquid nitrogen.
When do doctors recommend cryotherapy?
Surgeries can be hard on the body but cold therapy is not an invasive medical procedure at all. By surrounding the body with exceptionally cool air it could enhance your recovery time, like many athletes who rely on cryotherapy to recover after a grueling competition.
Cryotherapy is also an effective tool for the medical treatment of the following cancers including but not limited to bone cancer, cervical cancer, liver cancer, precancerous cells, retinoblastoma, and skin cancers. Cryo is used for the treatment of many conditions dealing with muscle, back pain, skin, arthritis, recovery, mental health, and wellness.
Cryogenic Therapy Benefits
The term cryo means extreme cold and wellness gains are the effects of suitably exposing the body to an icy temperature. Ice baths don’t drop to a cold enough temperature to share the same cryogenic effects but are still an effective treatment plan for athletes dealing with inflammation and muscle fatigue. Here are some other benefits that cryotherapy may provide:
One three minute whole body cryotherapy session can burn up to 800 calories. Cryotherapy helps to mobilize fat in the blood by increasing the metabolism causing the body to burn fat.
Performance and Recovery
Performance athletes use cryogenic treatments to enhance their performance, increase their recovery speed, and relieve pain. Some athletic professionals have purchased a whole body cryotherapy chamber for their home and portable chambers for cryogenic treatments on the go. Cryo helps athletes repair muscles, increase blood flow, remove damaged tissues, as well as improve other medical conditions.
Reduce Arthritis Symptoms
The National Institute of Health performed a study that measured the results of whole-body cryotherapy on patients with arthritis and found that cryo treatments significantly reduced their pain. Cold temperature therapy has been shown to reduce muscle pain and discomfort in the joints.
Anxiety and Depression Treatment
Cold temperatures can cause hormonal responses in the body. Endorphins, adrenaline, and noradrenaline combat depression and anxiety, and these hormones can be unblocked and released using cryogenic therapy. Studies suggest that WBC can be an effective short-term treatment for anxiety and depression and a great tool for wellness.
Health professionals use cryoprobes to treat nerve irritations and numb injuries. Cold treatments can be used to numb pinched nerves, treat chronic discomfort, relax a muscle, and remove damaged tissue.
When the body is exposed to cool temperatures the body goes into preservation mode and blood is stored and when the blood gets used it is filled with enzymes and nutrients that encourage muscle relief and reduce inflammation. Cryogenic treatments improve antioxidant levels in the blood. Cryogen therapies boost oxygen in the blood and can help the body to:
- Alleviate headaches
- Eliminate excess fatigue
- Boost the immune system
- Impedes the aging of cells
Cryosurgery and Cancer Relief
Cryosurgery involves using targeted cryo methods to eliminate tumors by freezing cancerous cells that are then discarded by the body. Cryotherapy has been used as an alternative treatment method for cancer patients including those with cervix and prostate cancers.
Skin Treatments and Anti-Aging Benefits
Cold therapy has been an effective method for those interested in maintaining their youthful appearance and rejuvenating their skin. Extreme cold can kill damaged skin cells and the increased circulation and hormonal responses encourage the growth of newer healthier cells.
Cryotherapy is most effective when used regularly and administered by a professional. If you have or have had the following health concerns, then cold treatments may not be right for you:
- Pacemaker patients
- High blood pressure history
- High risk of infection
Cryotherapy sessions only last for a few minutes and a session lasting longer than that could be fatal. It’s important to remember never to practice cryotherapy without supervision or fall asleep inside a cryogenic chamber.
The most common side effects of cryotherapy are numbness, redness, rash, tingling sensations, and skin irritations. Those who have cryotherapy treatments could experience the following side-effects as well:
- Frostbite and blisters
- Pale skin at surgery sites
- Sexual dysfunction
- Nerve damage and loss of sensations
- Cold panniculitis
Cryotherapy treatments can be a safe and practical treatment method for a plethora of conditions, as long as it’s administered safely after a consultation with your doctor about whether cryotherapy or cryosurgery is a good option for you.