Cryotherapy has rapidly grown in popularity overseas with famous sport stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Floyd Mayweather and Usain Bolt swearing by its healing properties.
A local Cryotherapy session lasts for about 3 minutes where the affected area is treated to nitrogen vapour of up to -160 ˚C and the skin temperature is brought down to about 4 ˚C. This tricks the body into “fight or flight mode”; the body is not actually in hypothermia but the brain thinks that it is. The treated area compensates by heating itself through speeding up cellular metabolism, releases enhanced levels of endorphins and drastically increasing blood flow, which in turn accelerates your body’s own natural healing.
All forms of Cryotherapy treatments work on the same principle of reducing the surface temperature of the skin to 4 °C in order to boost blood circulation and reduce inflammation. The increased circulation of healthy nutrients in the body stimulates various health benefits. This makes it a great form of treatment for arthritic joints, lower back pain, neck pain and sports injuries. In fact, just about any musculoskeletal condition can be successfully treated using this form of treatment. The treatment is safe, only takes minutes to complete with no after treatment downtime.
Developed in 1978 by Dr Toshima Yamauchi of Japan, cryotherapy was first used to help patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The word “cryo” is Greek and means “icy cold”, and the “big chill” is said to relieve symptoms of arthritis, autoimmune diseases, multiple sclerosis, other neurological disorders and depression. The therapy gained popularity in the 1980s in Europe and the US when both professional and recreational athletes used the treatment after exercise.
Local Cryotherapy can assist in the treatment of:
• Injuries (72 hours post injury)
• Back and neck pain
• Nerve pain
• Frozen shoulder
• Tennis elbow
• Rheumatic conditions
• Sport performance
• Chronic pain conditions
Is it the same as ice treatment?
Cryotherapy in this context is often confused with cold application such as icing. The treatments offer significantly different and even contrasting results. Icing cools down skin and tissue and has a penetrating effect due to high contact surface. Icing slows down cellular activities making it ideal for acute injuries but not for longer term use. In contrast, cryogenic gas is completely dry and at a temperature -75˚ to -160˚ colder than icing, stimulates the thermoregulators in the outer layer of skin with no penetrating effects. The body responds by rapidly speeding up cellular activity in attempt to generate compensatory heat. Cryotherapy is thus indicated for the sub-acute to chronic phase of injury recovery (post 72 hours) because of its stimulatory effect on the body’s healing mechanisms. Most of the benefits derived from Cryotherapy are systemic in nature and are a result of the body’s thermoregulation responses to the cold exposure.