Literally, cryotherapy refers to a type of cold therapy. In this technique, you are exposed to very cold temperatures for a couple of minutes. You have the freedom to expose all of your body or a specific path. There are many ways to have localized cryotherapy. For example, you can use ice baths, coolant sprays, ice massage, and ice packs, just to name a few. Let’s take a look at some common benefits of Cryotherapy.
1. Improves Migraine Symptoms
With this technique, it is possible to treat migraines. The idea is to cool down and numb the nerves in your neck. In an experiment, researchers applied frozen ice packs to the neck of a patient and it reduced migraine pain significantly. Experts suggest that the technique cools down the blood that passes via the intracranial vessels.
2. Numbs the Nerves to Reduce Irritation
Cryotherapy has been used by a lot of athletes for the treatment of a variety of injuries. What happens is that the cold causes numbness to the irritated nerves. Basically, doctors insert a probe into the tissues around the painful area. As a result, it is possible to treat acute injuries, chronic pain, and pinched nerves.
3. Treats Mood Disorders
In this case, cold temperatures can trigger physiological hormonal responses, such as the emission of endorphins, noradrenaline, and adrenaline. This may have a positive impact on a person who is having mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
As a matter of fact, one study discovered that whole-body cryotherapy can be quite effective even in the case of short-term treatment.
4. Reduces Arthritic Pain
According to a study, whole body cryotherapy can help reduce arthritis pain as well. Volunteers tolerated the treatment very well in many experiments. Therefore, this treatment can be suitable for aggressive treatments, such as occupational and physiotherapy. Therefore, this approach has increased the efficacy of many rehabilitation programs.
5. Treats Low-Risk Tumors
Localized cryotherapy can be an effective choice as far as the treatment of cancer is concerned. In this therapy, cancer cells are frozen with the help of ice crystals. These days, this approach is used in order to treat different types of low-risk tumors of cancer, such as prostate cancer.
6. May Prevent Dementia
Although research studies are still ongoing to find out the effectiveness of this approach, researchers have found that cryotherapy can help prevent Alzheimer’s and different types of dementia. This therapy can be effective due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects.
7. Treats Skin Conditions
Atopic dermatitis is on the list of chronic inflammatory diseases of the skin. In this disease, your skin may become dry and itchy. Since cryotherapy is known for improving antioxidants, it can help reduce inflammation.
Risks and side effects
The most common side effects of any type of cryotherapy are numbness, tingling, redness, and irritation of the skin. These side effects are almost always temporary. Make an appointment with your doctor if they don’t resolve within 24 hours.
You should never use cryotherapy for longer than is recommended for the method of therapy you’re using. For whole body cryotherapy, this would be more than four minutes. If you’re using an ice pack or ice bath at home, you should never apply ice to the area for more than 20 minutes. Wrap ice packs in a towel so you don’t damage your skin.
Those with diabetes or any conditions that affect their nerves should not use cryotherapy. They may be unable to fully feel its effect, which could lead to further nerve damage.
Tips and guidelines for cryotherapy
If you have any conditions you want to treat with cryotherapy, make sure you discuss them with the person assisting with or administering your treatment. It’s always a good idea to consult your doctor before using any type of therapy.
If receiving whole body cryotherapy, wear dry, loose-fitting clothing. Bring socks and gloves to protect from frostbite. During therapy, move around if possible to keep your blood flowing.
If you’re getting cryosurgery, your doctor will discuss specific preparations with you beforehand. This may include not eating or drinking for 12 hours beforehand.
There is plenty of anecdotal evidence and some research supporting the claims that cryotherapy can offer health benefits, but whole body cryotherapy is still being researched. Because it’s still being researched, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider to assess whether it’s right for you.