What is Cryotherapy and How Does it Work?
What is Cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy is a relatively new form of treatment in which the body is briefly exposed to very cold temperatures in order to promote healing and other therapeutic results. Cryotherapy has been shown to decrease inflammation of the body’s tissues, muscles and joints. It can also help improve the body’s circulation and healing, and also slow down cellular metabolism and reproduction. Cryotherapy can help to reduce pain and muscle spasms in the body as well as reduce the swelling of injuries. Cryotherapy has also been shown to promote faster healing in joint, muscle and tendon injuries.
Cryotherapy is different from cryosurgery in that cryosurgery is used for removing dead or diseased tissues, and involves the focused application of extreme cold to the tissue that is to be removed. This is usually facilitated through the use of liquid nitrogen. Cryosurgery has been used to remove skin tags, warts, moles, etc. and has also been used to treat some forms of cancer.
How does Cryotherapy Work?
Cryotherapy works by lowering the skin temperature of the body very rapidly and for a short period of time — usually for just a couple of minutes, and no more than 4 minutes. This is accomplished by spraying the body with a fine mist of safe, non-toxic nitrogen. (Nitrogen actually makes up 80% of our natural atmosphere.) The recipient steps into a cryotherapeutic chamber about the size of a spray-tan booth and receives the treatment while standing up.
This dramatic but brief reduction in the body’s temperature causes the release of a sudden burst of adrenaline, giving an immediate boost to the body’s immune system. This immune system improvement can last for days or even weeks after the treatment. There is also a shorter terms release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller. This changed physiology within the body can result in accelerated healing and promote increased well being in all of the body’s organs, cells and systems.
What are the Benefits of Cryotherapy?
The reported benefits of cryotherapy include improved circulation, better metabolism, detoxification of the skin, liver and lymph systems, accelerated healing, cellular and tissue repair, and improved immune function. Cryotherapy can promote faster muscle regeneration from injuries and quicker recuperation from fatigue. All of these healing benefits are possible, and cryotherapy is a relatively safe and non invasive procedure. Cryotherapy is increasingly being offered in clinics and spa-like facilities all around the world, and professional athletes are starting to take notice.
In addition to these health benefits, cryotherapy can also help reduce the pain, signs and symptoms of arthritis, tendonitis, fibromyalgia, migraines and psoriasis. It can also promote increased endurance, speed and strength, result in better skin tone, a reduction in cellulite, less insomnia and better sleep, lower stress levels and lower levels of anxiety and depression.
What is the Cost of Cryotherapy?
A cryotherapy treatment is affordable, costing about as much as a massage. The average cost of cryotherapy treatment is about $50 to $100 per session.
Benefits can be experienced from even one or two sessions, but often people choose to sign up for packages of up to ten sessions. Cryotherapy treatments can be administered as often as the patient chooses, and in some cases multiple treatments are administered in one day.
What are the Possible Side effects of Cryotherapy?
Overall the cryotherapy process and treatments are considered very safe. The cryotherapy process has been described as “brisk but tolerable.” Some recipients of the treatment have compared it to the way it feels to stand briefly inside of a walk-in freezer. Since the process causes the body to release a surge of endorphins, the main “side effect” of cryotherapy is feeling good. This increase in positive feelings and mood can last from several days to several weeks.
Since the cryotherapy treatment occurs inside of a chamber, there is the possibility that those persons who have issues with claustrophobia might feel uncomfortable during the process. However, since the treatment is so brief (just a couple of minutes), this is very rarely an issue.
Other rare but possible side effects of cryotherapy are changes to the skin color and pigmentation, and nerve damage to nerves that lie close to the surface of the skin.