We all get aches and pains every once in a while. Some people, on the other hand, have chronic issues accompanied by pain or inflammation. Pain is so common that there are numerous therapies offered to help in managing pain and making one feel more comfortable with it. One therapy that has gained popularity in recent years is Intense cold therapy.
Cold therapy is a kind of cryogenic therapy where the body is exposed to very cold temperatures for a short time. The theory behind it is that the cold helps with inflammation and helps reduce pain and other symptoms. Those that support this treatment claim that it works the same way as using ice to ease swelling.
What to Know About Cold Therapy Treatment
Whole body cryotherapy or intense cold therapy treatment isn’t actually a medical treatment. You can get it even without a doctor’s prescription. You can get cold therapy treatments at spas, wellness centers, and gyms. But remember, it isn’t an FDA-approved treatment for any condition.
Places offering cryotherapy or cold therapy treatment have special chambers or tanks that are cooled to extremely low temperatures. These tanks can go as cold as -200 to -300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Most tanks are at least shoulder-height. Your head usually remains at room temperature but there are also tanks that enclose your entire body. You are required to wear protective covering for your hand, feet, and ears. Most people wear only underwear apart from the protective covering. The treatment requires you to stand in the tank for at least 2 to 4 minutes.
Basic Facts about Cryotherapy
- Cryotherapy refers to any treatment that uses freezing or near-freezing temperatures.
- Since cryotherapy is a fairly new treatment process, some of its potential benefits are yet to be proven.
- Cryotherapy may be a safe alternative treatment for many ailments. It can help prevent them as well.
- Cryotherapy can be quite unpleasant, especially for those who are not used to cold or freezing temperatures.
Safety and What You Can Expect
- The most popular form of cryotherapy is the one where you sit in a cryotherapy booth for at least 3-5 minutes.
- There are people who opt for cryotherapy facials—which is only for the face. Some people use a cryotherapy wand targeting specific areas of the body, such as the knees or a painful joint.
- Cryotherapy is also called whole-body cryotherapy or intense cold therapy.
- Cryotherapy is a non-medical treatment that you can avail in a spa or similar setting.
- Doctors also use cryotherapy. For example, they can use very cold temperatures to freeze off warts or cancerous cells.
- Though it may start off as uncomfortable or unpleasant, cryotherapy usually gets better with each treatment, as the body gets used to the low temperature.
- It is considered safe, in general, but it is also important to consult a doctor before trying this type of treatment.
- Pregnant women, children, and those with high blood pressure are prohibited from trying cryotherapy.
- Having cryotherapy for anything longer than 3-5 minutes can be dangerous.
- One should avoid sleeping during cryotherapy, and they should keep check of their time during each session to make sure it is not longer than the recommended time frame.
What does Cryotherapy Claim to Treat?
Manufacturers of cryotherapy tanks and clinics and businesses that offer this type of service claim that cryotherapy or intense cold therapy can help with many health issues. Some even suggest that it can improve symptoms of conditions such as:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Chronic pain
- Multiple sclerosis
Those who promote this type of treatment even claim that it can help with weight loss and insomnia. Others even claim that it can improve your blood circulation, increase metabolism, and ease body pain after a workout.
Is Cryotherapy Effective?
The FDA has not tested any of the health benefits or medical claims concerning cryotherapy. The agency has also warned people to use caution when trying it, adding that it has not approved the tanks as a treatment for any known health conditions.
The FDA has looked into a few studies on the effects of intense cold therapy. The agency has decided that there isn’t really any evidence of the therapy improving or helping any medical conditions.
Other studies also show that cryotherapy can help relieve pain from sports-related injuries. Cryotherapy can also help with the following problems:
Inflammation – cryotherapy can lower the temperature of your skin and muscle. This results in reduction of swelling and pain. The effect can be described as something similar to using ice packs.
Joint conditions – cryotherapy can also be helpful when you have a frozen shoulder. This is a condition wherein your shoulder locks up and refuses to move.
Recovery from exercise – cryotherapy can help reduce soreness after a long, intense workout. However, it will not improve your performance for your next workout, nor will it reduce the amount of muscle damage caused by an intense workout.
Risks Involved in Cryotherapy
There aren’t a lot of proven benefits or applications to cryotherapy, but there are certainly real and obvious risks. Exposure to extreme cold temperatures can result in injuries. There have been reports of people getting frostbite or cold-induced rashes after an intense cold therapy session.
Extreme cold temperatures can also worsen or aggravate other health conditions, such as:
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
- High blood pressure
- Poor blood circulation
- Allergy symptoms
- Neuropathy in the feet or legs
Other Kinds of Cryotherapy
Whole body cryotherapy is not a medical treatment but there are other types of cryotherapy that are considered safe and effective. For instance, doctors can apply extreme cold using liquid nitrogen to abnormal tissues to freeze and destroy it. This is actually a common treatment used for skin conditions such as skin tags, moles, and warts.
Cryotherapy is also a treatment used for some types of cancers. It can be used to target small areas of abnormal cells in your body and destroy them by freezing. This is generally a mildly invasive procedure that doesn’t involve surgery. Cryotherapy is used to treat the following:
- Liver cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Bone cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Retinoblastoma, a retinal cancer in children
New benefits are being discovered all the time and with this treatment being non-invasive, affordable, and so refreshing, why wait? Talk to a medical professional and see if cryotherapy is right for you.