Many people live their lives plagued by chronic pain. Doctors are faced with few options for pain management, aside from often painful physical therapy and harmful prescription drugs. This leaves people feeling less than optimistic when considering pain management options.
In recent years more people have been turning to cryotherapy as alternative to the traditional pain management options. The US News & World Report recently published an article, “Should You Try Whole Body Cryotherapy?” detailing personal experiences with cryotherapy as an option for pain management, as well as the benefits and possible drawbacks.
US Marine Corp veteran and former combat instructor Leasha West explains the benefits of cryotherapy stating:
“It’s the best way to start (the day),” says West, who pays $169 a month for unlimited treatments – called whole body cryotherapy – although single sessions can run up to $100 in some areas of the country. What for? Initially, to ease her back pain and muscle stiffness after hearing rave reviews from her professional athlete clients. But West has continued the treatments because she finds they lead to benefits including more energy and focus, a boosted metabolism, improved tolerance to cold and pain, faster-growing hair and nails, younger-looking skin and sounder sleep.”I can really tell the difference … when I skip a few days,” she says.
The US News & World Report defines cryotherapy as:
Whole body cryotherapy, which essentially means “cold treatment,” is a procedure that exposes the body to temperatures colder than negative 200 degrees F for two to four minutes. While it’s been used to treat conditions such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis in Japan since the late 1970s, it’s only been used in Western countries for the past few decades, primarily to alleviate muscle soreness for elite athletes, according to a 2015 Cochrane review of four studies.
Still wondering what it is like? The US News & World Report explains what you can expect the first time you freeze:
Depending on the facility, you may be given gloves, socks, slippers, a face mask, ear muffs, underwear or all of the above to protect sensitive skin before stepping into a cryotherapy chamber. While it feels cold right away, the time passes quickly, West says. “You’re going to get the shivers; you’re not going to feel like you’re frozen,” she says, noting that the treatment just penetrates the skin, so the organs stay safe. Plus, she adds, “you can open the door at any moment to get out.”
In all, the health benefits are as follows:
Potential Cryotherapy Benefits:
(Purported cryotherapy benefits include)
- Muscle and joint pain relief
- Weight loss
- Younger-looking skin
- Better mood and energy
Muscle and Joint Pain Relief
If you’ve ever iced a twisted ankle or sore shoulders, you’ve treated yourself to a form of cryotherapy that works. Applying cold to an injury for 15 minutes at a time, three to four times a day is “highly effective,” says Jon Schriner, a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine who’s based in Michigan. But the benefits of doing that to your whole body are less established.
One 2017 review of studies on athletes in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, for instance, suggests that cryotherapy can be effective in reducing muscle pain, inflammation and cell damage. Research has also shown that athletes may feel like they recover more quickly when they use cryotherapy, “which is important,” Zwibel says. Still, the research isn’t robust enough to dictate how long, how often and at what temperatures cryotherapy may work best, if at all. (US News & World Report)
Ready to try cryo, book your session today (252) 631-5379