You must have heard about cryotherapy before, right? If you haven’t, allow me to introduce it to you. Cryotherapy is a recovery technique that involves general or local utilization of low temperatures in medical therapy. The term “cryotherapy” originates from the Greek word cryo which translates to cold and therapy which means a cure. This technique is not new as it has been used in the past, dating back to the seventeenth century. The term is more prominently used to refer to surgical treatment mainly known as cryosurgery. There are also other therapies such as ice pack therapy and whole body cryotherapy that use the term.
This technique is popular in physiotherapy and sports medicine. Sportsmen like Floyd Mayweather undertake cryotherapy procedures in order to increase their chances of faster recovery, especially from injuries. Celebrities like Justin Bieber, Demi Moore, and professional dancers featured on the ABC-TV series “Dancing with the Stars” also use cryotherapy to stay in top shape.
Are There Any Benefits To It?
Cryotherapy is useful in treating different malignant and benign tissue damage that are medically referred to as lesions. Physicians strive to achieve the following goals on their patients through this form of therapy:
- Decreasing inflammation
- Cellular metabolism/ decreasing cell growth and reproduction
- Reducing spasm and pain
- Increasing cellular survival
- Promoting vasoconstriction (constriction of blood vessels)
Doctors also use cryotherapy to destroy cells by crystallizing cytosol which is a liquid found inside cells. It is also called intracellular fluid (ICF) through using extreme temperatures.
The cosmetics and beauty industries are making use of the therapy to achieve the following results:
- To make the skin feel and look healthier
- To improve circulation of blood
- To remove toxins from the body
- To fight age-related deficiencies
Cryogenic chamber procedures in medicine are expected to do the following:
- Help one recover from a surgery or an illness
- Help increase general health improvement during various ailments
- Help treat skin diseases
Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) is used to stimulate the natural healing abilities of the body. No other known therapy can be used to elicit such a powerful, holistic and positive response. WBC typically uses extreme cold in order to induce responses on three different levels which are:
- The nervous system
- The energy meridians
- The circulatory system
This form of treatment has been touted by the affluent as an incredible way to dramatically improve jet lag and sleep disorders, reduce stress, and procure relaxation. In physical medicine, it was developed specifically for three primary conditions; to prevent relapses for various illnesses, to treat inflammatory and muscular pathologies and to help athletes recover quickly and enhance their performance. The anti-aging virtues of extreme cold applied in cryotherapy have been known for a long time in Eastern and Nordic countries as an apparent fountain of youth and for rejuvenation.
Controversy Associated With The Therapy
The controversial question most people would ask is whether cryotherapy really works or whether it’s a craze that is trending for nothing. An article in The Washington Post on health and science gives details. The post says that despite the idea that cold heals is ancient, many scientists have begun to test the idea of treating pain and swelling with “RICE” (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). They also have doubts as data has accumulated.
Scientists so far have failed to find substantial evidence to back up the idea that cold therapies can help with recovery from exercise or muscle soreness among other ailments. A less dire but still critical concern is that icing might somehow slow healing when the inflammatory process of the body are interfered with. It’s even worse that there may even be dangers like frostbite.
Moreover, one might also carry occupational hazards with full-body cryotherapy. In October last year, a worker at a Nevada spa froze to death after hours in a cryotherapy chamber she had entered. Although much details of what transpired remain unclear, the issue should be taken seriously.