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You want me to get cold?? Why?

Updated: Oct 28, 2022

Health Benefits of Cryotherapy

1) Inflammation

In three studies, ranging from 10 to 45 subjects, cryogenic chamber treatment increased the presence of anti-inflammatory proteins (cytokines IL-6, IL-1Ra, and IL-10) and decreased pro-inflammatory cytokine levels (IL-1α). These changes lasted longer for those who completed more cold chamber sessions

In a study of 12 athletes, a reduction in inflammatory proteins (tumor necrosis factor α) and improvements in tennis strokes were recorded among the cryotherapy group

WBC treatment increased the number of anti-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1Ra and IL-10), while pro-inflammatory components (IL-1β and CRP) decreased in two studies following 11 and 18 young athletes. This protein profile in combination with restricted blood flow helped reduce exercise-induced inflammation

Another controlled study examined the effects of WBC prior to exercise. These 18 athletes also showed a decreased presence of pro-inflammatory proteins (IL-1β in the blood after exercise

Prolonged inflammation can lead to impaired blood flow, increased pain, and less mobility

2-3) Pain Reduction and Joint Mobility

Cryotherapy may reduce pain by decreasing inflammation, improving antioxidant balance, and increasing beta-endorphins

In two trials of 176 elderly men with chronic back pain, those receiving consistent cryogenic chamber experienced a significant pain reduction and improvements in mobility after a 3-month period

In a randomized study, 30 individuals with a frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) engaged in either physical therapy treatment or standard therapy in conjunction with cryogenic chamber treatment. There was a significant improvement in shoulder mobility, rotation, and functionality in the whole body cryotherapy group

In one trial, there was a significant improvement in post-exercise pain relief after 5-day cryosauna treatment. However, the results are not wholly supportive of its use as recovery enhancement

42 patients with lower back pain engaged in cryogenic chamber treatment in conjunction with physical therapy exercises. Pain sensation and spinal mobility improved

4) Rheumatic Diseases

Rheumatic diseases cause chronic pain and inflammation in joints and muscles, the most well-known of which is rheumatoid arthritis.

In three studies of 168 rheumatoid arthritis patients, whole-body cryotherapy brought significant improvements in

  • Pain reduction

  • Functionality

  • Wellbeing

  • Disease activity

  • Inflammation

Cryo chamber treatment reduced pain and the need for medication in 50 patients with different forms of arthritis. Additionally, well-being and mobility of the patients improved

WBC significantly reduced pain and disease activity in two studies of 70 patients with varying rheumatic disorders. Patients also had higher functionality in their joints, and pain reduction

lasting up to 2 months (especially in women)

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is a form of arthritis in the spine

Two controlled studies assessed the effectiveness of the cryo chamber in comparison to normal physical therapy techniques in AS patients. The results showed significant improvements in mobility and disease activity

A review of all WBC treatments of rheumatic diseases indicates that cryo chambers should be used as a complementary approach to prescribed treatment measures, such as corticosteroid and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication

5) Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is characterized by the degeneration of nerves by one’s own immune system(autoimmune), and it’s partly induced by oxidative stress. Symptoms include, but are not limited to

  • Weak muscles, fatigue, and painful spasms

  • Numbness and dizziness

  • Mood changes and depression

In two studies, 50 patients diagnosed with MS were treated with 10 cold chamber sessions. Cryosauna treatment significantly reduced oxidative stress

In a study of 48 MS patients, cryotherapy sessions improved functional status and fatigue. Those with higher fatigue levels experienced a more significant change

Whole-body cryotherapy improved exercise ability and fatigue in another trial of 24 MS patients

6) Oxidative Stress

In a randomized control study of 32 healthy males, cryo chamber treatment decreased the markers indicating oxidative stress and increased the presence of antioxidants in the blood

In two studies of 50 multiple sclerosis patients, 10 cryosauna treatments significantly reduced oxidative stress

One study involving 9 kayaker women found that antioxidant activity is higher when cryogenic treatment is practiced after training

After 20 WBC treatments, there was an increase in superoxide dismutase in 30 healthy volunteers. However, there was also a decrease in glutathione and GPx activity, which assist in breaking down harmful free radicals

7) Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a disorder that can lead to severe pain in the muscles and bones, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping

In a controlled study, 100 patients with fibromyalgia continued routine medication plans, while half were also treated with whole body cryotherapy. The WBC group reported significant improvements in quality of life

Another controlled study examining 24 patients with fibromyalgia reported similar improvements in quality of life, lasting for at least one month after treatment

The above results are promising, but they are mostly based on subjective measures. Further research should test the objective effects of cryotherapy in fibromyalgia patients.

8) Anxiety and Depression Treatment Support

In one study, 23 adults suffering from depression received whole body cryotherapy sessions while continuing their prescribed medication plan. WBC treatment reduced all symptoms of depression, except for day-night mood fluctuations. This was a preliminary trial lacking a control group

In a study of 60 patients over 3 weeks, WBC improved the symptoms of depression and anxiety and increased overall life satisfaction when added to standard treatment

Cryotherapy appears to be a promising complementary approach to anxiety and depression, but well-designed trials are needed to verify its safety and effectiveness.

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