An article on Health Central says that lately, researchers have been studying the potential health benefits of cryotherapy using cold air chambers. Cryotherapy started in Japan and uses a device called a cryosauna. For the procedure, a patient stands in a chamber with their head sticking out the top, and they wear socks and gloves. Volunteers are exposed to extremely cold (-1100c to -1400c) air for up to three minutes. The delicate body parts like the hands and feet are protected while the rest of the body experiences a sudden drop in temperature. After a few sessions, the body experiences measurable changes that can help to relieve pain.
The analgesic (pain-relieving) effects of cryotherapy are related to three specific changes in the body. First, the nerve signal transmission is slowed. Reducing a number of nerve signals getting through to the brain might relieve pain in some individuals. Second, nor-epinephrine levels increase after cold immersion. This stress-induced chemical reduces pain sensitivity as a protective mechanism in times of life-or-death situations. And lastly, cryotherapy can reduce pain intensity and frequency by reducing inflammation. All of these potential benefits can be measured in the lab, but how does cryotherapy measure up in the real world?
Arthritic joints, frozen shoulders, muscle injuries and other types of painful conditions have all been found to benefit from cryotherapy. People with these conditions experience less pain and are able to return to normal activities sooner. How much cold is necessary and for how long are still questions being worked out. Not everyone has access to expensive cold air chambers, but a little cold could go a long way towards helping those with chronic pain.
Fibromyalgia Treating feels that the use of whole-body cryotherapy to treat fibromyalgia seems to have a promising outlook. Since the treatment is not an approved medical treatment by the FDA, the treatments are not covered by most insurance. Cryotherapy facilities usually charge between $60-75 per treatment, and most offer reduced rates when you sign up for several at a time or sign up for a membership that offers unlimited treatments. It is important to discuss adding whole body cryotherapy to your treatment plan with your doctor before trying it.
Brrrrrr, it makes you feel cold just thinking about it.