General cryotherapy

General cryotherapy

Łukasz Olszewski (physiotherapist at Damian Medical Centre)

Cryotherapy is a systemic treatment for the entire body – it is cold therapy using liquid nitrogen, which cools the treatment chamber where the temperature ranges from -60oC to -140oC. The total treatment time is 3 minutes. After exiting the chamber, the patient rides a stationary bike in the exercise room for 30 minutes.

Qualification for the procedure is determined by orthopaedists and rehabilitation physicians on the basis of a document certifying the absence of systemic contraindications.

The best treatment results are obtained when undergoing treatment daily for 20 days.

Before each entrance to the cryochamber, the physiotherapist carries out a brief medical interview with the patient during which he measures the patient’s heart rate and blood pressure, which cannot exceed 150/90 mm Hg. People who have blood pressure above 150/90 mm Hg should provide an additional certificate proving constant elevated blood pressure.

Before entering the cryochamber, the patient should wipe the body dry, especially places prone to sweating. Do not use lotions and moisturizers on the day of treatment. Benefits of the cryochamber include:

  • pain relief
  • anti-swelling effect
  • anti-inflammatory effect
  • reduced muscle tension
  • strengthening and stimulation of the immune system
  • improved peripheral vascular function
  • cleaning and regeneration of the skin - anti-cellulite effect
  • improved regeneration and healing process
  • improved mood
  • improved body efficiency

WHICH CONDITIONS MAY BENEFIT FROM CRYOTHERAPY?

  • Inflammatory and degenerative diseases of the joints
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Ankylosing spondylitis (AS)
  • Painful shoulder syndrome (PHS)
  • Periarticular inflammation
  • All post-traumatic conditions, overload in the musculoskeletal system
  • Back pain (treated surgically and conservatively)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Collagenoses
  • Chronic pain syndromes
  • Increased muscle tension
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Spastic paresis and hemiplegia
  • Cerebral palsy (CP)
  • Neurodermitis, atopic dermatitis (AD)
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Gout
  • Psoriasis
  • Hypotension
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Menopause
  • Depressive states
  • Insomnia
  • Migraine
  • Physical and mental fatigue in adults
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Biological regeneration
  • Reduced libido
  • Training for sports competitions and post-competition regeneration

WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF TREATMENT?

  • Pain relief, anti-swelling, anti-inflammatory effects
  • Reduced muscle tension
  • Increased muscle strength
  • Vasodilation and increased perfusion of cooled places lasting about 3 hours
  • Supports regeneration and healing processes
  • Increased hormone levels (ACTH, cortisone, beta-endorphin and testosterone in men)
  • Improvement of depressed mood
  • Increased efficiency of exercise post-treatment
  • Increased resistance to infection
  • Improved bone mineralization
  • Biological regeneration during intense workouts
  • Supports weight loss
  • Anti-cellulite effect
  • Increase libido

CONTRAINDICATIONS:

  • Cancer
  • Some cardiovascular diseases: post-myocardial state or other serious heart disease, heart failure, arrhythmias, history of arterial blockages
  • Uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Hyperthyroidism and uncontrolled hypothyroidism
  • Use of certain medications, such as neuroleptics, and alcohol
  • Damage to the skin, allergy to the cold, frostbite
  • Acute respiratory ailments, kidney and bladder diseases
  • Pregnancy
  • Claustrophobia
  • Sensory disturbances
  • Raynaud's Disease
  • Local blood circulation disorders
  • Severe anaemia
  • Cold urticaria
  • Cold intolerance
  • Excessive emotional dysregulation manifested by skin sweating, etc.
  • Lymphoedema

PATIENTS’ CONCERNS

Patients are often uncertain whether cryotherapy can be used in certain cases, and although there is no conclusive medical evidence as to the indications and contraindications, below we list the most common questions:

  • contact lenses - there are no reliable reports on contraindications to wear them during cryotherapy; despite this, many patients choose to remove them during treatment,
  • blood vessel stents or post-stent aneurysms - internal implants are not effected by general cryotherapy, but for safety reasons we suggest consulting a specialist in case of any cardiac conditions,
  • pacemaker - internal implants are not effected by general cryotherapy, but for safety reasons we suggest consulting a specialist in case of any cardiac conditions; also, the effects of low temperatures on the pacemaker’s battery life are unknown,
  • endoprosthesis (hip, knee) - internal implants are not effected by general cryotherapy,
  • cancers, depending on their duration – active cancers are a contraindication to cryotherapy; in the case of cured cancer it is best to get permission from an oncologist,
  • breast feeding - no conclusive reports, but specialists in the field of cryotherapy advise against the use of the cryochamber during lactation,
  • hormonal/contraceptives patches - low temperatures do not have a negative effect on the patches themselves, but can affect their properties or substances contained within them,
  • Kinesiotaping patches - low temperatures do not have a negative effect on the patches themselves, but can influence their elastic properties,
  • varicose veins, breaking blood vessels - large varicose veins and venous thrombosis are contraindications to cryotherapy, but spider veins are not an issue, on the contrary - improved microcirculation improves the appearance of the skin,
  • intrauterine inserts - as in the case of other internal implants, there are no contraindications,
  • breast implants - there are no contraindications.

Certainly, not all uncertainties can be eliminated in advance, but each concern reported by the patient should be approached individually and considered, taking into account the patient’s well-being. In addition, knowledge of the systemic cryochamber is constantly updated and scientific papers are published in this field almost daily, so what is relevant today may change tomorrow.

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