The use of cold therapy for pain, injury and overall physical wellbeing is not foreign to the world of prevention and healing. Collegiate and professional athletes have used ice baths, cold compresses and other cold therapy applications for decades in order to dial down inflammation, flush toxins, decrease injury and improve blood flow. Now there is a new form of cold therapy becoming popular among athletes and everyday people called cryotherapy.
Since it is such a new treatment, cryotherapy has little supporting research to prove or disprove the potential benefits, so here’s what you need to know.
What is cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy is cold therapy using freezing or near freezing temperatures. A popular form of cryotherapy requires a sit or stand session inside a cryotherapy chamber for three to five minutes. Some cryotherapy clinics offer more specialized therapies such as wand therapy, which applies cold to the affected area like an inflamed joint. Cryotherapy is often offered in a spa or similar environment but may occasionally be offered at a medical or surgical facility. For example, dermatologist and doctors often use this therapy to freeze off warts and other lesions.
- Healed muscle tissue
- Weight loss
- Decreased inflammation
- Pain relief
- Improve anxiety and depression
- Cancer treatment
- Dementia prevention
- Lessened pain
- Migraine treatment
A study published in 2000 supports that cryotherapy can offer temporary pain for participants with rheumatoid arthritis. The study discovered that ice packs post exercise could decrease inflammation and pain.
A study published in 2008 required that participants ages 18-65 years old who were diagnosed with anxiety and depression complete daily cryotherapy treatments. These participants showed improvement as compared to the control group.
Safety can be a huge concern for the use of cryotherapy. Generally it is safe for the average healthy adult, however it is recommended that you discuss its use with your medical doctor prior giving cryotherapy a try.
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– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC
Health Advisor | Email Casey