Cryotherapy is full body immersion from the neck down into extremely cold temperatures. Listed below are a few of the claims made by cryotherapy providers. We will examine what the research says about these claims and if there is sufficient evidence to support each statement.
What are the CLAIMS of cryotherapy?
What the RESEARCH SAYS:
Length of treatment and sessions
Comparison between research & “claims or believed benefits”
For most of these claims there is not sufficient evidence. While it does provide some pain relief, it requires an ABUNDANCE of sessions to actually achieve any type of therapeutic benefit. While going through the research, I found one article that suggested “an icepack is a much cheaper option”.
Douzi, Wafa, et al. "3-min whole body cryotherapy/cryostimulation after training in the evening improves sleep quality in physically active men." European Journal of Sport Science 19.6 (2019): 860-867.
Lombardi, Giovanni, Ewa Ziemann, and Giuseppe Banfi. "Whole-body cryotherapy in athletes: from therapy to stimulation. An updated review of the literature." Frontiers in physiology 8 (2017): 258.
Rose, Catriona, et al. "Whole-body cryotherapy as a recovery technique after exercise: a review of the literature." International journal of sports medicine 38.14 (2017): 1049-1060.
Patel, Karan MD; Bakshi, Neil MD; Freehill, Michael T. MD; Awan, Tariq M. DO. Whole-Body Cryotherapy in Sports Medicine. Current Sports Medicine Reports 18(4):p 136-140, April 2019. | DOI: 10.1249/JSR.0000000000000584
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative disease that affects the articular cartilage of the joint. As a result, there is a decrease in the joint space and an increase in boney development (commonly referred to as “bone spurs”). Onset typically takes years. Risk factors for developing OA include age, trauma, obesity and family history. It can develop in any JOINT but is most commonly seen in the knees, hips and hands.
What does research say about exercising with arthritis?
What type of exercise should those with arthritis do?
Those with osteoarthritis should participate in physical activity. If pain is preventing you from exercising, try to find an activity you enjoy that causes minimal pain. If it is still challenging, reach out to a professional to create a plan to manage your pain.
Goff, Anthony J., et al. "Patient education improves pain and function in people with knee osteoarthritis with better effects when combined with exercise therapy: a systematic review." Journal of Physiotherapy 67.3 (2021): 177-189.
Lo, Grace H., et al. "Association between walking for exercise and symptomatic and structural progression in individuals with knee osteoarthritis: Data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative Cohort." Arthritis & Rheumatology 74.10 (2022): 1660-1667.
Raposo, Filipe, Marta Ramos, and Ana Lúcia Cruz. "Effects of exercise on knee osteoarthritis: A systematic review." Musculoskeletal care 19.4 (2021): 399-435.
Siew-Li Goh, Monica S.M. Persson, Joanne Stocks, Yunfei Hou, Jianhao Lin, Michelle C. Hall, Michael Doherty, Weiya Zhang,Efficacy and potential determinants of exercise therapy in knee and hip osteoarthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis, Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine,Volume 62, Issue 5, 2019,
Inflammation is the body's immune response to an irritant (Informedhealth). White blood cells migrate into the tissues in an effort to “protect” the body from the irritant. Inflammation is categorized as acute or chronic. For an acute period of time inflammation is beneficial, however, chronic inflammation becomes harmful.
How does inflammation cause pain?
During the inflammatory process chemical mediators are released to signal white blood cells to the area. White blood cells release a byproduct that affects the nerves in the area to tell the brain that there is pain. For a short time, this is a protective mechanism. If a body part is injured, reducing movement decreases any further damage. However, long term inflammation to the body is very damaging (Omoigui).
Causes of inflammation:
Ways to reduce inflammation:
Inflammation is inevitable, and for short periods of time it is important and beneficial. The problem occurs when inflammation goes uncontrolled for extended periods of time. Take small steps each day to reduce inflammatory habits in your lifestyle.
Foods that fight inflammation - Harvard Health
InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. What is an inflammation? 2010 Nov 23 [Updated 2018 Feb 22]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279298/
Kolb, H. Obese visceral fat tissue inflammation: from protective to detrimental?. BMC Med 20, 494 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-022-02672-y
Omoigui S. The biochemical origin of pain: the origin of all pain is inflammation and the inflammatory response. Part 2 of 3 - inflammatory profile of pain syndromes. Med Hypotheses. 2007;69(6):1169-78. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2007.06.033. Epub 2007 Aug 28. PMID: 17728071; PMCID: PMC2771434.