Cryotherapy: How Does It Really Work?

  • October 10, 2015
  • Review, Science
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Cryotherapy: How Does It Really Work?

The theory of cryonics has been around for many years, although cryotherapy is relatively new and becoming a trend, especially among athletes.

So What Exactly Is Cryotherapy?

In order to understand cryotherapy, one needs to first have a brief understanding of cryonics. In an article on cryonics, Wikipedia states:

“…the modern era of cryonics began in 1962 when Michigan college physics teacher Robert Ettinger proposed in a privately published book, The Prospect of Immortality, that freezing people may be a way to reach future medical technology. (The book was republished in 2005 and remains in print.) Even though freezing a person is apparently fatal, Ettinger argued that what appears to be fatal today may be reversible in the future.”

The practice of cryotherapy was an outshoot of cryonics. Today there are various methods used for cryotherapy.

The technology of whole body cryotherapy began in 1978 in Japan. It was developed and used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. From Japan, cryotherapy spread to Europe where more advanced studies developed further uses for cryotherapy.

Whole body cryotherapy is usually performed by clinicians and takes the place of cold water immersion or ice packs. The individual receiving the therapy wears minimal clothing, gloves, a woolen headband that covers the ears and a nose and mouth mask. Dry shoes and socks protect the feet. The person will then enter a chamber where they are exposed to extremely cold dry air that reaches temperatures of -100 ? C for 2 -4 minutes. In some cases the whole body cryotherapy allows the individuals head and neck to be free above the chamber.

What Medical Conditions Are Helped by Cryotherapy?

As mentioned earlier, cryotherapy has gained most of its credibility for relieving athletic aches and pains. As the technology keeps advancing though, cryotherapy uses also advance. The following list shows some of the most popular ways people are being helped through cryotherapy:
Muscle Soreness and Stiffness
Muscle and Injury Recovery
Skin and Facial Treatments
Diseases like MS and Cancer

Why Do People Choose Cryotherapy and Does Medical Insurance Pay for Cryotherapy?

People from all walks of life have chosen to try cryotherapy for various reasons. It seems that once a person gets over the initial apprehension of allowing their body temperature to be so drastically reduced, they come out of a session as a true believer.

Scott K, from California states:

“I’m 51 years old and this…is the fountain of youth…my stress level is down and I sleep much better.  I’ve had some various nagging aches and pains for years that have all cleared up.  I also find that I have more energy working out.”

Hailey C, from Nevada, who regularly has cryofacials, says:

“The Hydrafacial took about 30 minutes and made such a difference in my skin! My aesthetician, Lora, explained the whole process and was very nice! At the end of the treatment she showed me everything she got out of my skin during the treatment so I knew it worked well!
The Cryofacial felt very relaxing and helped to tighten my pores.”

An athlete, Jeff D, claims cryotherapy works better than more traditional treatments:

“I have chronic back pain and tons of sports related injuries and this…really works. The chamber treatments are awesome and the localized treatments really work and help get rid of dull pain that simply ice and ibuprofen would not take away.”

While medical insurance policies in many European countries recognize treatment through cryotherapy, the United States health insurance companies still do not reimburse for whole body cryotherapy. Down the road, however, as cryotherapy continues to become a more accepted medical treatment, health insurance companies in the US will have to reevaluate their policies.

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