Is Cryotherapy Good For You?
Cryotherapy is a medical therapy in which very cold temperatures are used for giving health benefits to individuals. It can be as simple as a cold compress applied to an area to reduce muscle spasm or pain. Although cold therapy has been used for health benefits since 1700s, a new type of this therapy has emerged recently in which a person sits in a body-sized chamber with liquid nitrogen filled up to the neck. When skin temperature dips below 200°F, cryotherapy starts working to provide benefits. There are many health issues that can be corrected or relieved with this newly discovered therapy. Here at oneHOWTO, we will answerthe question is cryotherapy good for you? And we will discuss its uses, benefits and dangers.
Uses of Cryotherapy
Cryotherapy is a pain management treatment that deadens irritated nerves by making use of localized freezing temperature. During the process, the therapist inserts a probe into the tissue along the affected nerve. As the temperature of the probe decreases, it effectively freezes the nerve, thus inactivating it and relieving painful nerve conditions. There are many conditions that can be relieved with cryotherapy:
- Migraines: Cryotherapy treats migraines by freezing nerves in a person’s neck area. This therapy forms a neck wrap by taking a couple of frozen ice packs and applying it to the carotid arteries of the neck, which can reduce migraine pain. By cooling down the blood that passes through the intracranial vessels, it relieves discomfort. Carotid arteries can then be easily accessed, as they are very close to the surface of the skin.
- Nerve irritation: Athletes have been using cryotherapy for years to treat injuries, mainly because it numbs pain. Freezing temperatures can be effective in numbing irritated nerves. The therapist inserts a small probe into the nearby tissue, thus freezing the affected nerve. This helps in treating chronic pain, neuromas and acute injuries.
- Mood disorders: When a person sits in a chamber of freezing cold temperature, it activates significant physiological hormonal responses, including adrenaline, endorphins and noradrenaline release. People suffering from mood disorders such as depression and anxiety can feel immense positive effect with this therapy.
- Arthritic pain: Cryotherapy is also found to be effective in reducing pain in patients with arthritis. This treatment is well-tolerated by most. It also helps to parallel more aggressive therapies, such as occupational therapy and physiotherapy. Ultimately, cryotherapy enhances the effects of rehabilitation programs.
- Low-risk tumors: Localized cryotherapy can also be used in the treatment of some cancers. It works by surrounding cancer cells with ice crystals thereby freezing them. At present, it is only being used to treat certain low-risk tumors, such as prostate cancer.
- Alzheimer’s and dementia: Cryotherapy is known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects that are believed to fight against oxidative and inflammatory responses which occur in Alzheimer’s. Whole-body cryotherapy is found to be effective in preventing Alzheimer’s disease as well as other types of dementia.
- Skin conditions: Atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition which is characterized by itchy and dry skin. Cryotherapy is known to improve blood antioxidant levels, thus reduce inflammation and treating the condition. When made to target sebaceous glands, it has been found to be effective in managing acne.
Benefits of Cryotherapy
In addition to treating many health conditions, cryotherapy is known to deliver these following benefits:
- Boost metabolism: After a cryotherapy session, most people report having a faster metabolism. This means that their body starts converting food into energy at a faster rate, resulting in the burning of more calories. A single session can burn around 800 calories, as your body utilizes huge amounts of energy to bring its core temperature back to normal. So, if you are trying to lose some weight, then cryotherapy can actually help you.
- Make you happier: Not only does cryotherapy work on your body, but it works on your mind too. Similar to antidepressants, cryotherapy boosts happiness levels and gives you a joyous state of mind. With regular sessions, it can have long-lasting effects on your mentality. During the therapy, your body releases endorphins which trigger the feelings of happiness. Because you are happier, you should inevitable feel less pain and feel more energized to fight against life’s problems.
- Manage pain: By releasing endorphins, it works as a form of anesthesia and aids in blocking pain.
- Improves focus: In addition to making you feel happier, it also affects other factors. These factors include concentration power, memory and thought process. Neuro-motors in the brain degrade with age, but cryotherapy increases your oxygen levels which improve your cognitive capability, which is conducive to maintaining a clearer, more agile and sharper mind.
- Boosts physical strength: Many athletes use this therapy to boost their physical strength and performance levels. In addition to boosting energy, it speeds up recovery process and tackles signs of fatigue and injury.
- Improves sleep: Low quality sleep deteriorates your immune system, and can make you more susceptible to infection or disease. Cryotherapy is known to boost the production of several components that are necessary to promote sleep and ensure that you receive the rest that you require.
- Keeps you looking younger for longer: Collagen is the main protein of hair and skin. By increasing its production, cryotherapy helps in fighting against the signs of aging like that of baggy eyes, hair loss and wrinkly skin. Frequent sessions can make your skin more elastic and resilient, leaving you with longer lasting bright and youthful skin.
- Reduces fatigue: If you suffer from chronic fatigue, this therapy can reduce discomfort and pain. Inevitably improving your quality of life.
- Improves general well-being: It is a holistic treatment which improves both your mind and body. Cryotheraoy creats a chain reaction that brings positive effects throughout your body. With the correct use of this treatment you can improving general well-being, personal development and satisfaction.
Risks, Dangers and Side Effects
The most common side effects of cryotherapy are tingling, redness, irritation and skin numbness. But most of these side effects are temporary and should subside naturally within 24 hours. People with certain health issues, like hypertension, anemia, seizures, heart disease, and claustrophobia should not go for cryotherapy sessions. Pregnant women are also advised not to use cryotherapy. Health risks can increase if the person stays inside the chamber for longer than recommended time, or if proper safety measures are not taken by the facility. Here are a few safety measures that you should consider before going for a cryotherapy session:
- Make sure that you are going to a licensed facility, where workers are available to monitor your treatment.
- Liquid nitrogen is used to chill the chamber and create dry frost. When used in high quantities, it creates deficiency of oxygen in the environment. Your facility should have an oxygen monitor which alarms the staff when the oxygen levels go dip too low.
- Never stay in a cryotherapy chamber for more than the recommended period of time. Most sessions are finished within 2-3 minutes, and whole body session can be no longer than 4 minutes. If your facility is keeping you in the chamber for more than this, then perhaps they are not qualified enough to carry out these sessions.
- The facility should provide you with socks, gloves and other gear needed to keep you safe during the session. These products should be 100% dry because wearing wet gear may lead to frostbite which can further damage your nerve system.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to Is Cryotherapy Good For You?, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.