Cryotherapy is the use of cold therapy for pain management for injuries such as runner’s knee, tendonitis, back pain and arthritis pain. It’s been used for thousands of years to reduce swelling and nerve activity and therefore pain. In fact Hippocrates spoke of the benefits of cold therapy in the form of snow and ice on the body. Today cryotherapy ranges from the most basic ice pack in the freezer to the far more effective and sophisticated whole body cryotherapy sauna now available in Sydney’s Double Bay.
Cryotherapy for Pain Management
Cryotherapy can reduce pain in a number of ways. It can effect the nerve signals and slows down their transmission which may reduce the amount of pain signals to the brain. The levels of norepinephrine increase. This chemical is stimulated when we are under stress and it’s a natural painkiller. Finally cryotherapy can reduce inflammation. A study was done during a course of 12 weeks of a group of women who were exposed to cryotherapy and the results showed that whole body cryotherapy may be effective for pain alleviation.
Patients with diseases such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and back pain have also found that cryotherapy reduced their pain and the study concluded that whole body cryotherapy was an important part of their rehabilitation programme.
In conclusion, cryotherapy can not only manage pain but reduce swelling and at the same time increases oxygen and blood flow to the injured area. This can stimulate the healing process of the tissues.
- -1- John Hopkins Medicine – Cryotherapy (Cold Therapy) for Pain Management. http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/orthopaedic_disorders/cryotherapy_cold_therapy_for_pain_management_134,95/
- -2- Scand J Clin Lab Invest 2008;68(2):145-53 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18382932
- -3- Rehabilitation (Stuttg) 2000 Apr;39(2):93-100 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10832164