Cryotherapy for pain and inflammation

Cryotherapy Cryotherapy

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is a biological response to injuries and cellular damage that affects your tissues and cells. It acts as a protective attempt by the body to remove the injurious stimuli and to initiate the healing process. However, this results in problems due to the fact that the receptors present in inflammation are also present when the body is in pain. The activation of these are what results in the reaction of inflammation. These chemical signals released by damaged cells result in dilation of blood vessels, accumulation of white blood cells, warming of tissue and swelling.

How Cryotherapy helps inflammation

The use of cryotherapy to aid in the recovery of pain and inflammation dates as far back as 1978.  Dr. Toshima Yamaguchi began using it to help his patients with rheumatoid arthritis. As he became aware that cryotherapy triggers anti-inflammatory norepinephrine release which reduces short-term pain from injuries.  

In addition it can make intensive physical therapy more tolerable for chronic pain from conditions like fibromyalgia, chronic back pain, and osteoarthritis.

What makes cryotherapy such an interesting method is that it can decrease inflammation while simultaneously stressing your body enough to keep your cells on their toes. Low doses of physical stress from a cold plunge can elicit an adaptive response and strengthen your immune system by increasing white blood cells and immune cells.  As a result your bolstered immune system then has the ability to kill viruses and fight off tumour factors.  In addition, short bursts of cold therapy may also increase the antioxidants glutathione and superoxide dismutase, which help support liver and immune function, optimise cellular function, and protect against oxidative stress.

Due to this news of the therapy spread and quickly became incredibly popular with elite athletes in the NFL and NBA (and continues to grow in the athletic field).  It allows them to help lower inflammation and decrease pain, acutely and over time.

Some studies proving the effects of cryotherapy for pain relief below: