C ryotherapy, which is more commonly known as cold therapy, is a treatment technique people have been using for thousands of years. From the time of ancient Egyptians until the present day, the procedure has seen improvements and we now have machines to benefit from ice therapy more effectively either at home or at clinics and spas.
We have localized ice therapy and whole-body cryotherapy to pick from nowadays. But what exactly is this therapy suited for? When do specialists recommend cryotherapy for pain management and other benefits? Learn this and more there is to know about cold therapy by continuing to read this article.
*Note: In this article, we will use the abbreviation WBC for whole-body cryotherapy, and PBC for partial-body cryotherapy.
Whole-body cryotherapy implies that the individual enters a chamber that is chilled by vaporized nitrogen. The temperature generally spans from -200 to -300 degrees Fahrenheit. The treatment lasts for 3 to 5 minutes.
Partial-body cryotherapy implies the application of ice packs, ice therapy machine wraps, ice massage, or ice spray on a specific area of the body.
Cold therapy is a treatment where your body is exposed to very low temperatures. It is segmented into two broad categories depending on coverage, namely WBC and PBC. PBC is more commonly used and most people who have sustained injuries or are looking for muscle tenderness relief perform the treatment at home. With the best ice therapy machine, you can apply cold directly to the area you want to treat without requiring professional supervision. Alternatively, you can utilize an ice spray or ice packs to apply the cold treatment to the affected area. As long as you don’t surpass the 30-minute mark when it comes to preserving the area cold, there is no need for a specialist’s guidance or intervention.
From WBC, on the other hand, you can only benefit when you go to a wellness center, spa, or clinic that has the cryo-chamber needed for the procedure. The whole body is immersed in it, and the session length is much shorter because of the low temperatures you are exposed to. However, since the whole body welfares from the therapy, this novel technique is deemed more beneficial for athletes post-workout.
As long as you follow recommendations regarding continuous use and breaks between cryo sessions, you can benefit from ice therapy multiple times per day. This goes for PBC, not WBC. If you opt for WBC, a single 3-5 minute session per day is sufficient. On the other hand, if you prefer localized cold therapy, the National Council for Orthopedic Research recommends that you employ the ice pack or ice therapy machine wrap on the affected area for 20-30 minutes. When the time passes, remove the cold item to prevent frostbite and take a 2-hour break before application. Therefore, if you opt for at-home ice therapy where you can undergo the procedure at your discretion, you can perform the treatment about 9 to 10 times within 24 hours.
As beneficial as this therapy might be, the reason why it is recommended for a vast series of medical issues, as we earlier explained, there are situations when it is contraindicated. Some of these conditions include, but are not limited to:
The list of ways in which ice therapy benefits the patient is longer than what we will immediately list. However, these are some of the most important science-backed perks you reap when applying either local or WBC:
For the wide range of benefits ice therapy provides and the action that stands at its basis, it is recommended for a wide range of situations. In fact, doctors recommend it to patients for the pain management and rehabilitation assistance it can provide. Whether you opt for WBC that you perform at a wellness center or spa, or you prefer PBC via ice packs or utilizing the ice therapy machine is not important. What matters is that you don’t fall into any of the categories of individuals who should avoid cold therapy, and make sure that you proceed as recommended when it comes to session length and breaks. As long as you follow these simple guidelines, regardless of the condition you suffer from that ice therapy is approved for, you will notice more rapid healing or pain alleviation.