Lose weight, heal injuries, get better sleep, slow the signs of aging – these are things that many, if not most, people want to achieve. What if one treatment could tackle all these problems for you, plus help manage pain and inflammation? Advocates of cryotherapy claim that this treatment is the answer.
But what exactly is cryotherapy, and is it the panacea they say? In this guide, we’ll take a well-rounded look at what you need to know about cryotherapy, and what kinds of things it can effectively treat.
If you’re interested in cryotherapy as a way to manage pain and more, keep reading.
What is Cryotherapy?
Simply: Cryotherapy is a treatment that uses below-freezing temperatures for therapeutic purposes.
Although the name “cryotherapy” makes it sounds like a new concept, the reality is that it has been around for a long time. “Cryo” comes from “krous,” a Greek word meaning “cold.” And, of course, we all know what “therapy” means.
Cold therapy, then, is something most people are familiar with. Ever used an ice pack to treat a headache or sore muscles? That’s cryotherapy.
This localized cold treatment is proven to be effective. It works because the cold causes blood vessels to constrict, which in turn reduces swelling and pain.
However, the kind of ice-remedy that most people are talking about now isn’t localized to a specific area of the body. Today, many people choose to walk into a cryotherapy chamber and expose their whole body to extremely low temperatures for a matter of minutes.
Why are so many people trying this intense treatment? Let’s take a look at how that chryo-chamber works on your body.
How Does It Work?
Many treatments use cold air or liquid nitrogen to expose your entire body to extreme cold. A similar, but more traditional, method is the cryotherapy ice bath; athletes have been using ice baths to treat the whole body post-workout for years.
In the chamber, the effects of a therapeutic ice bath can be multiplied. The temperatures are much lower, and you don’t need to spend much time inside to get results.
Just what are those results said to be? There is a wide variety of ailments and difficulties that cryotherapy is said to help with. The most obvious one is post-workout pain and soreness. Since an ice pack can work on a single muscle group, it stands to reason that exposing the whole body to icy temps would work on every muscle group.
However, cold reportedly also helps lose weight, get better sleep, prevent visible signs of aging, and more. Are these results proven? Let’s take a look at what the research says.
What Experts Say About Cryotherapy
Health professionals agree on the positive effects of localized cryotherapy, such as ice packs. However, the health and medical community has yet to reach a consensus on the effects of whole-body cooling.
Since this is a relatively new approach to treatment, there haven’t been many opportunities for research yet.
If you’re looking for a cure-all weight-loss solution, experts say, cold treatments probably aren’t going to do the trick. That’s not necessarily because it doesn’t work. After all, cold exposure is a metabolism booster.
However, the reality is that there is no simple solution that can automatically trigger significant weight loss. Diet and exercise are the only two things actually proven effective. That doesn’t mean cryotherapy can’t help, just that it won’t give results on its own.
Who Uses Cryotherapy?
A survey of Cryotherapy users shows half are male, half are female, and 25 percent are age 50 or older. In addition, 45 percent go in at least once a week and 31 percent use cryo to manage pain.
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Chronic or Temporary Pain
The effects of cold therapy on temporary and chronic pain and inflammation are easier to measure. Many experts use it to treat not just post-workout soreness, but ongoing, painful issues like fibromyalgia and arthritis.
When the existing articles on using this method to treat pain are compared, it seems there still is no consensus on just how effective the treatment really is. Continuing research helps reveal a clearer picture, though.
However, since cold is already a proven localized treatment for pain, many professionals support the idea that whole-body cryotherapy is also effective, even though it hasn’t been researched as much.
Other claims, like “cold therapy can prevent aging” or provide better sleep, have been studied even less, so much of the evidence is hearsay. However, studies on various uses for this treatment have had interesting results so far.
One study, for example, suggested that it could help prevent dementia, because dementia is associated with inflammation. Although cryotherapy may not do everything it’s famed to, continuing research may just shed light on some new positive uses for the treatment.
Finding Cryotherapy Near Me
Cryotherapy purportedly helps with a wide variety of ailments. Though some claims lack proof, it’s clear that cryotherapy is an effective treatment for pain. And luckily, it’s easier than ever before to find a cryotherapy chamber near you.
This treatment has grown wildly in popularity in the last few years, and there is probably a cryotherapy center in your town or in a city close by. To find a trusted center in your area, search Yelp or social media for “cryotherapy near me” – the reviews from other customers will help you choose the best location for treatment.
Image: CC by 0, by robynm via Pixabay.