The Benefits of Localized Cryotherapy
By now you’ve probably heard of some of the amazing benefits offered by whole body cryotherapy, but perhaps you haven’t heard of those offered by its popular, targeted counterpart, localized cryotherapy. Like whole body cryotherapy, this therapy involves freezing cold temperature to address a variety of health, beauty and wellness concerns. Read on below to find out all about the incredible benefits of localized cryotherapy.
Bodily Pain Relief
One of the most popular reasons for using localized cryotherapy is to address bodily aches and pains. This is achieved through the stimulation of collagen production, which is the main structural protein found in skin and other connective tissues.
The promotion of collagen improves skin elasticity and is the primary protein the body uses to repair muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments. The vaporized beam of liquid nitrogen that the treatment utilizes also promotes vasoconstriction, or the constriction of blood vessels, which furthers aids the healing process.
Additional benefits include the quickening of athletic recovery time, aid in surgical recovery, and relief for sprains, strains and soreness.
Localized cryotherapy has also been shown to reduce the appearance of cellulite and to promote tighter, younger-looking skin. This too is because of its acceleration of collagen production.
The body normally slows collagen production at around age 30, but localized cryotherapy helps buck that trend. The procedure results in a lifted, tightening effect to the skin, and the intense cold also causes your blood vessels to contract and your pores to tighten. Once your skin returns to its normal temperature, the blood vessels dilate quickly, which causes an increase in the flow of blood and oxygen and makes your skin look more vibrant.
The accelerated production of collagen also improves skin texture and elasticity, both of which help stall the appearance of aging.
Additionally, cryotherapy has been shown to reduce atopic dermatitis, or eczema, a chronic inflammatory skin condition in which patches of skin become rough and inflamed.
A Finnish study had eczema-sufferers undergo cryotherapy treatment instead of using their typical eczema medication, and many saw improvements in their eczema symptoms. Even more, the treatment has been shown to be effective in improving other external inflammatory conditions like psoriasis and rosacea, though repeated treatment is required.
Next, localized cryotherapy provides relief for maxillofacial pains and headaches. Ulta-cold temperatures can cause physiological hormonal responses, including jumps in endorphins, adrenaline, and norepinephrine production.
These hormones are directly related to sleep and relaxation. Endorphins activate the body’s opiate receptors, which relieve pain and improve sleep, and norepinephrine acts as a mild sedative, helping the body to relax and sleep more restfully, as one study showed.
If the body’s norepinephrine production levels are too low, it often results in feelings of sluggishness and malaise associated with mood disorders like depression, but cold treatment can help. What’s more, a 2013 study found localized cryotherapy to help alleviate migraine headaches in chronic sufferers.
Localized cryotherapy, unlike more workaday cold treatments like the application of ice packs, contains no moisture, and as such there’s no real discomfort or pain. With ice you’re left numb and stiff until the treated area has warmed up, but because localized cryotherapy doesn’t actually freeze the muscle tissues, it only results in the perception of freezing, meaning no post-treatment pain or stiffness.
Unlike other athletic recovery or cosmetic procedures, there is no downtime to a localized cryotherapy treatment. This means that once your procedure has finished you are free to move and engage the targeted area immediately. In other words, you’ll be in and out in a flash.
So, all this begs the question, who is a good candidate for localized cryotherapy? Well, for one, anyone experiencing bodily aches and pain. More specifically, localized cryotherapy works well for those suffering from inflammatory response after injury, surgery, or exercise.
It’s also great for those experiencing spasticity accompanying central nervous system disorders; acute or chronic muscle spasms; those seeking the reduction of local fat tissue; and to prevent edema (an excess or watery fluid collecting in the cavities or tissues of the body) formation following a sprain, strain, or surgery.
While experts find that cryotherapy is completely safe for most people, it is not recommended for pregnant women, those with high blood pressure (>over 150 not controlled by medication), those with major heart or lung conditions, those with poor circulation or severe Raynaud’s Syndrome, those with cold-activated asthma, or those with neuropathy (nerve disease) in the legs or feet.
Cryotherapy is an innovative treatment with amazing benefits that can be employed in tandem with most prescribed pharmacology and/or some post-surgery relief. It is a palliative addition to a healthy lifestyle, after all! Of course, if you have had surgery recently, or are concerned about adding localized cryotherapy to your treatment plan, consulting with your health care practitioner first is always recommended.