“During physical therapy at OrthoIndy, we use ice for swelling, inflammation and pain control. However, any type of therapy that uses ice is known as cryotherapy,” said Jeff Mestrich, OrthoIndy physical therapist at OrthoIndy’s Westfield location.
So what is cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy originated in Japan in the late 70s. The treatment began for those with serious rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation and muscle recovery. Cryotherapy is a pain treatment that uses a method of localized freezing temperatures to relieve irritated nerves.
“Cryo,” comes from the Greek work “krous,” which means “icy” or “cold.” Think of cryotherapy as a huge ice pack for your entire body. When you are injured, you are often told to “put some ice on it.” This is the thought behind the creation of cryotherapy.
How does cryotherapy work?
The chamber is filled with nitrogen gas which cools to negative 300/400 degrees Fahrenheit. The chamber looks almost like a shower. You enter the chamber, with only gloves and socks on and stand in the freezing chamber for up to four minutes. Cryotherapy is said to boost your metabolism, burn calories, provide detox and anti-aging benefits and strengthen the immune system.
How does localized cryotherapy work?
If stepping into a chamber of freezing temperatures is not for you, then try localized cryotherapy. In localized cryotherapy, a probe is directed towards the tissue next to the affected nerve. The temperature then drops to below freezing; only that part of your body part is experiencing the freezing cold temperatures instead of your entire body. The freezing temperatures inactivates the nerve and, as a result, painful nerve irritation is relieved.
Cryotherapy can be used to treat multiple conditions that constantly irritate an isolated nerve. In general, conditions include benign nerve growths and pinched nerves.
Typically, during cryotherapy you can experience a numbness or tingling in the skin due to the decrease in temperatures, just like the effects of an ice pack. However, when the probe blows the freezing temperatures at your skin, it does not feel like an outdoor cold pelting sensation.
A few local cryotherapy practices are performed at A Better You Wellness, Cryotherapy Indy and True Fitness Wellness Center. OrthoIndy’s physical therapy building does not have cryotherapy chambers or localized cryotherapy; however, OrthoIndy physicians or physical therapists will sometimes recommend cryotherapy as part of rehabilitation from certain injuries. Learn more about OrthoIndy physical therapy.