Cryotherapy Treatment for Chronic Pain: Is It Right For You?

For many years, athletes have used ice baths as a way to recover faster after games. This form of cryotherapy aids in preventing and treating muscle soreness after exercise in adults and can be found in many sports locker rooms. Today, many people have started to use cryotherapy chambers in order to reduce soreness. Cryotherapy chamber treatments involve standing in extremely cold (-166 to -220 degrees F) air for up to three minutes. Some cryotherapy chambers can go as low is -300°F. Can you bear the cold?

What should you expect when entering a cryotherapy chamber? Don’t worry, it isn’t as bad as you think. Depending on the facility you visit, men will be required wear a swimsuit or shorts, t-shirt, socks and tennis. Women will be required to wear a swimsuit or shorts (including top), socks and tennis. If you don’t have appropriate socks or footwear, they will be provided to you. You’ll also receive a pair of gloves. All sensitive areas of the body will be covered for safety (hands, feet, ears, mouth and nose via a respiratory mask). Please avoid wearing jeans, slacks or any loose fitting clothing. The fabric tends to harden during the process. You’ll be asked to remove or cover all jewelry.

It is recommended you don’t exercise or shower prior to treatment. Any moisture on the body will freeze. You’ll be told to wipe yourself down with a towel to remove any moisture. Do not apply oils, sprays or lotion to your skin. It is best to leave your skin bare.

When entering the chamber, do not touch the walls with your bare skin, breathe normally and avoid sudden movements. You will be allowed to remain in the chamber for up to three minutes. Anything above that is not recommended. If you feel uncomfortable at any time, you can leave the chamber. Your body may have a fight of flight response to the change in temperature. Once completed, many have experienced a “runner’s high,” flushed or glowing skin. The teeth chattering treatment may relieve joint pain, reduce inflammation, promote a faster recovery and produce a rush of endorphins.

It is advised that after exiting the chamber, you should do light cardio to re-warm the body. This will allow fresh blood to circulate through the body and flush any stagnant blood within the muscle tissue to reduce inflammation. After a few sessions, you should experience changes in pain relief. This may allow you to not rely so heavily on prescription pain medication.

Not everyone has access or the money to receive cryotherapy treatments, but adding just a little cold has been shown to help those with chronic pain. You can simply reach into your freezer for a bag of frozen vegetables or an ice pack. Apply for about 20 minutes on the pain area.

If you’re thinking about trying cryotherapy, be sure to consult your physician. People who are pregnant, have cardiovascular problems, cold allergies and hypertension should avoid this type of treatment.

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