Benefits and Drawbacks of Cryotherapy. Is It Worth the Hype?

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Cryotherapy as an advanced way of restarting your body. Find out benefits and drawbacks of cold therapy!

The importance of taking care of your body and soul has never been more in the spotlight than it has been during recent years.

We hear more and more different approaches and therapies, emerge and gain popularity, with a purpose to heal your body naturally with a twist of science.

A lot of expensive therapies, that were exclusively used only by professional athletes, have become more available for amateurs and people who are just recovering from traumas, injuries, or other illnesses. 

Cryotherapy is one of the new highlighted therapies that everyone is talking about. You can find articles, publications, or even books about the efficiency of Cryotherapy and it’s amazing healing powers.

Because of this, we decided to do some research and find out what’s the buzz about!

Let’s dive in!

Cryotherapy or more known as cold therapy

You would think that cold therapy is something brand new that scientists have recently discovered. Actually it has been around since ancient times.

Documents that were written down by ancient Egyptians and Greeks highlight the benefits of cold exposure when applied to swelling, pain, and bleeding.

In the Napoleonic era, ice exposure was used as a cooling method for amputation and anesthesia. 

So, it is actually wrong to assume that cold therapy or Cryotherapy is a brand new or very recent form of treatment. People have known and admired the benefits of Cryotherapy for hundreds of decades! 

The history of Cryotherapy

The important usages and benefits of cold have been recorded back to ancient Egyptians and Greeks.

Throughout history physicians and scientists have discovered more efficient ways to use cold therapy in treating illnesses and traumas.

In early fifties, Dr. James Arnott of Brighton, was the first person ever to start using cold therapy for fighting against cancer cells.

The first prototype of a surgical device, that used Cryotherapy functions, was built in the early seventies by Irving Cooper, and an engineer, Arnold Lee, setting the course to modern Cryosurgery.

In the late seventies, Japanese scientists and his partner built the first Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) chamber. Later in the eighties chamber was introduced to Europe and other parts of the world.

Keypoints of the cryotherapy history
History of cryotherapy

So, how does Cryotherapy or WBC really work? 

In short, Cryotherapy is where your body, or part of your body, is exposed to extreme cold.

Whole Body Cryotherapy means that your full body is exposed to near-freezing dry air in a specially built chamber.

Degrees in the chamber can drop to an extreme level below -100°C.

To achieve the right level of temperatures required for the therapy, two methods are typically used:

  • Liquid nitrogen

  • Refrigerated cold air

During WBC treatment minimal clothing is required, like shorts and an additional crop top for women.

To avoid cold-related injury, gloves, a woolen headband or a hat and a nose or a mouth mask are essential.

The time spent in the freezing chamber usually varies from 2 to 3 minutes.

For the first-timers, it is typical that the therapy may last up to a minute or two. The body needs several sessions to get used to extreme cold.

What are the main benefits of Cryotherapy?

There are many benefits linked to Cryotherapy from pain management to curing skin cancers.

Cryotherapy is also widely used among people suffering from splitting migraines or advanced arthritis.

But the best saved for the last, Cryotherapy is excellent with fighting against skin cancer cells by locally freezing them.

After the treatment, the body’s immune system gets rid of the dead tissue just over a few weeks.

There are also other benefits linked to Cryotherapy.

Reduces migraine symptoms

Cryotherapy might help with migraines by numbing the nerves in the neck area.

A study confirms that applying cold to the carotid arteries in the neck significantly reduced migraine pain in those tested. 

Helps with the pain

One of the many reasons why athletes love Cryotherapy after training, competitions, or injuries is that it helps with the pain.

You can either use it on a specific part of your body or as a whole-body treatment. It is also beneficial for people dealing with arthritis pain

It may help with low-risk tumours

Cryotherapy may be used to destroy cancer cells in the body. During the treatment, cancer cells are frozen in order to kill them.

Cryotherapy has been mostly used to treat skin cancer. 

Other Cryotherapy benefits

  • Weight loss

  • Reduced inflammation

  • Preventing dementia

  • Reducing anxiety and depression
List of cryotherapy benefits and downsides
Some benefits and downsides of cryotherapy

What are the downsides to Cryotherapy or WBC? 

There are many side effects that every individual should consider before trying it out. 

Some of the side effects caused by Cryotherapy:

  • Unusual sensations, such as numbness or tingling

  • Redness and irritation of the skin

  • Skin damage or frostbite

  • Decreased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and lowered respiration

What are the cases, when you should avoid the therapy overall?

Before booking the appointment you should consult with your personal physician.

The first and most important thing to keep in mind is respiratory and heart diseases.

If you have any history with heart attacks, high blood pressure, or cardiovascular disease and arrhythmias, you should definitely avoid Cryotherapy or WBC.

When to avoid cryotherapy

Why are training centers investing in cryotherapy machines?

In an effort to help athletes recover faster after training, professional clubs and training centers are investing in their own machines.

For instance, Dallas Mavericks, FC Barcelona, and The French Tennis Federation’s National Training Centre have all invested in recovery chambers.

These machines can be expensive. In fact, a cryotherapy chamber can cost $75,000 to $280,000

If you want to add cryotherapy to your own training facility, take the time to compare models based on technology, performance, and cost.

This Cryotherapy Machine Buyer’s Guide is a great place to start your research.

Is Cryotherapy or WBC really worth the hype?

Yes, and no.

There are the side effects that every individual should study and before booking an appointment. It is essential to consult with your personal physician.

Because of the lack of studies done to confirm ALL of the benefits, the treatment shouldn’t be used as widely as it is advertised.

Yet, there are crucial studies done to back up some of the most important claims.

For example the ability to fight against skin cancer, nerve, and arthritis pain or even with migraines.

We know from our own everyday experience that cold treatment always helps with a small burn wound or even with a deep-blue bruise.

So, if after consulting with your physician, you get a green light for the treatment then go for it! It’s actually pretty fun and relaxing.

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