Cryotherapy for knee pain

Cryotherapy Cold Therapy for Pain Management

Cryotherapy literally means cold therapy. When you press a bag of frozen peas on a swollen ankle or knee, you are treating your pain with a modern (although basic) version of cryotherapy.

Cryotherapy can be applied in various ways, including icepacks, coolant sprays, ice massage, and whirlpools, or ice baths. When used to treat injuries at home, cryotherapy refers to cold therapy with ice or gel packs that are usually kept in the freezer until needed. These remain one of the simplest, time-tested remedies for managing pain and swelling.

Using cryotherapy

Cryotherapy is the “I” component of R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). This is a treatment recommended for the home care of many injuries, particularly ones caused by sports.

Cryotherapy for pain relief may be used for:

  • Runner’s knee

  • Tendonitis

  • Sprains

  • Arthritis pain

  • Pain and swelling after a hip or knee replacement

  • To treat pain or swelling under a cast or a splint

  • Lower back pain

The benefits of applying ice include:

  • It lowers your skin temperature.

  • It reduces the nerve activity.

  • It reduces pain and swelling.

Experts believe that cryotherapy can reduce swelling, which is tied to pain. It may also reduce sensitivity to pain. Cryotherapy may be particularly effective when you are managing pain with swelling, especially around a joint or tendon.

How to apply cold therapy

Putting ice or frozen items directly on your skin can ease pain, but it also can damage your skin. It’s best to wrap the cold object in a thin towel to protect your skin from the direct cold, especially if you are using gel packs from the freezer.

Apply the ice or gel pack for brief periods – about 10 to 20 minutes – several times a day. Check your skin often for sensation while using cryotherapy. This will help make sure you aren’t damaging the tissues.

You might need to combine cryotherapy with other approaches to pain management:

  • Rest. Take a break from activities that can make your pain worse.

  • Compression. Applying pressure to the area can help control swelling and pain. This also stabilizes the area so that you do not further injure yourself.

  • Elevation. Put your feet up, or elevate whatever body part is in pain.

  • Pain medicine. Over-the-counter products can help ease discomfort.

  • Rehabilitation exercises. Depending on where your injury is, you might want to try stretching and strengthening exercises that can support the area as recommended by your healthcare provider.

Stop applying ice if you lose feeling on the skin where you are applying it. If cryotherapy does not help your pain go away, contact your healthcare provider. Also, you may want to avoid cryotherapy if you have certain medical conditions, like diabetes, that affect how well you can sense tissue damage.

Cryotherapy for Joint Pain

Movement is a function of motion inside the body, ‘proudly sponsored’ by the joints. Come to think of it, will your body move at all when your joints are stuck in a single position? The answer is no. Joints in the legs help us walk; and joints in the arms help us move our hands to bath, feed ourselves, and yes, the little joints in the neck help us shake the head, twist and turn to look in different directions. Therefore, we indeed need our joints to perform our daily duties, and be able to move from one place to the other.

Joint Pain

However, with pain, it becomes difficult to move the same joints. Think of someone with Arthritis, they experience excruciating pain whenever they try to move their joints, especially in the affected area. When it happens like this, it affects your day in a negative way, more so, your activities are greatly affected as you get limited in your ability to complete them. Besides just Arthritis, pain in the joints can be caused by injury, for example, when you are hit by an iron rod on the knees, or the injuries that come during performing high-action sports and activities. Sometimes people just fall and hurt their knees, ankles and elbows when at home, especially children.

Temporary Relief

Speaking of pain from falling while at home, we have, in our lifetime, witnessed people popping hydrocone throughout the day in a bid to subside the pain. It works initially, but as time goes on, the body might get used to the pills and end up being resistant. Over the years, cryotherapy has been introduced as an effective way of dealing with pain in the joints. With this method, the body does not get ‘used’ to it, thus becoming resistant to the treatment, but rather continues to respond positively.

Beat joint pain without drugs or negative side effects–right in the heart of Bucks County PA

With Cryotherapy, you can beat your joint pain and get back out there!

Joint pain can affect you because of disease, injury, after surgery and can strike any joint of the body.

Whatever the cause, the effects are equally debilitating, usually damaging quality of life due to problems with movement and sleeping and the inability to do many of the things that other people take for granted.

The Cryo Spa Natural Healing Center in Bucks PA offers relief from joint pain with cryotherapy–a natural, drug-free way to tackle pain.

Different types of joint pain

Joints are where two or more bones meet (knees, elbows, wrists, hips, shoulders) and pain in these areas can be mild, only causing discomfort when you move the joint, or severe, rendering the joint unusable.

While mild joint pain is usually well tolerated and controlled with over-the-counter painkillers, more serious pain can result from disease, injury, or after surgery.

Some of the most common types of joint pain are:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis–a chronic inflammatory disorder typically affecting the lining of the small joints and causing pain, especially in the hands and feet.
  • Osteoarthritis–wear-and-tear damage to the cartilage at the end of the bone causes pain and discomfort when tears in the cartilage cause fragments to appear within the joint.
  • Fibromyalgia–an autoimmune disease that causes musculoskeletal pain and other unpleasant sensations (tingling, stiffness, and ‘fibrofog’).
  • Lupus–a chronic, inflammatory, autoimmune disease in which an overactive immune system attacks normal, healthy tissues.
  • Recovery after joint surgery–surgery on joints usually results in postoperative tenderness and pain that can take a while to recover from
  • Tendonitis–inflammation or irritation of a tendon (the fibrous cords that attach muscle to bone).
  • Bursitis–occurs when the small, fluid-filled sacs that cushion bones, tendons and muscles near your joints becomes inflamed.

“Cryogenic sauna may be particularly effective when you are managing pain with swelling, especially around a joint or tendon.”

Johns Hopkins Medcine

While a simple ‘ice pack’ approach has been used by people to relieve pain for centuries, a cryosauna is a more effective strategy to target pain in one or more areas of the body.

For several decades now, cryotherapy has been used to relieve joint pain associated with surgery, arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, tendonitis, bursitis, and other conditions.

Find out more about how crytherapy works

Visit our general cryotherapy info page for details

A course of cryotherapy can:

Get your life back and do the things you love again with Cryotherapy.

  • Reduce or eliminate pain and swelling associated with inflammation in the joints
  • Improve mobility
  • Reduce the need for medication
Find out more about positive side effects of cryotherapy

Visit our side effects info page for details

How can you be sure it works?

Cryotherapy has been endorsed in the media and become a critical part of many patients’ programs for chronic pain treatment:

“I’ve had pain in my knees for about 24 years by now. The pain was constant, to the extent that I was not able to bend my knees at all. A couple of years ago I started having pain in my shoulders and developed frozen shoulders. When I saw an advertisement for Cryotherapy treatments, I decided to give it a try. I am very excited to share that after the 3rd treatment pain in my joints is gone. I can bend my knees!! I forgot what it was like to move so freely! Thank you Cryo Spa Natural Healing Center!”

Isabelita, Doylestown, PA

As a certified cryotherapy center, we welcome you to experience similar results…

Should You Try Cryotherapy to Help Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms?

A Few Small Studies Suggest the Usefulness of WBC

In 2014, French researchers published a review of cold therapy for rheumatic diseases in the journal Expert Review of Clinical Immunology, but they could find only a couple of studies involving a handful of people using WBC. Still, the review found that pain and joint-disease activity decreased after treatments, although the authors were clear that more and better studies should be done.

Another French review, published in the Journal of Thermal Biology in 2016, looked at a number of small studies using the method for people with medical conditions as well as healthy athletes. They concluded that WBC seems to decrease inflammation and stiffness and enhance the quality of sleep. Here, too, the authors lamented the lack of research and of standardization for the temperature, time, or conditions that might prove beneficial.

Cryotherapy Treatment Takes Place in a Small Tank

In a cryotherapy spa, you wear minimal clothes and are exposed to the cold by standing solo in a tank that covers everything but your head. Or, in some places, you enter a specialized room with several other people. Liquid nitrogen is pumped in, but since it turns to gas when it is frozen, you don’t actually feel it.

What you do feel, according to people who have tried it, is a sensation that shifts from a blast of cold air, to the chattering teeth like being outside on a frigid day, to several seconds more when your body starts to feel like an icicle.

Probably Little Downside, but Treatment Is Not Cheap

Daniel Muller, MD, a rheumatologist at UCHealth in Fort Collins, Colorado, and a co-author of the book Integrative Rheumatology, says it’s unlikely that severe negative effects would result from the few minutes of exposure.

For most people, he says, the biggest risk is likely to your wallet, since the method is unproven. But if you can afford the estimated $60 to $100 for an average session, he says, you might want to see if it helps you. Still, you’ll want to check with your own physician.

People with severe Raynaud’s syndrome, a comorbid condition to rheumatoid arthritis, in which small blood vessels in the fingers or toes constrict when exposed to cold, should probably stay away, Dr. Muller advises.

Look for a Reputable Place If You Want to Try Cryotherapy

If you do decide to try it, look for a cryotherapy spa with a lot of positive reviews on ratings sites. You might also ask about the medical training of the owner of the spa. Because no credentialing is currently required, owners can range from someone with a formal medical degree (the ideal) to someone with absolutely no medical knowledge.

There are dangers to going to a place that doesn’t take safety seriously. In 2015, a young woman who worked at a cryotherapy spa in Las Vegas died after going into the whole-body cryotherapy chamber after-hours. She suffocated to death, although exactly how that happened is a mystery, since she was alone. The state of Nevada promptly shut down that spa.

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Let’s say you’ve started working out at the gym and you’re wondering what you can do for your aching muscles. How does this sound? Put on a pair of gloves, shoes, socks, and a protective headband to cover your ears and face — but wear little else. Then step into a cold room for three to four minutes. By “cold” I mean really cold: between −100° C and −140° C (which is −148° F to −220° F)!

If that sounds good to you (really?), you may already be using whole body cryotherapy (WBC). And if it sounds terrible to you (or just strange), perhaps you haven’t heard of this increasingly popular “treatment” for sports injuries and a host of other conditions. It’s become even more popular in recent years as celebrities and professional athletes have embraced it. (I’m going to resist the temptation to namedrop here… okay, just a few: Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Aniston, and LeBron James reportedly engage in WBC. If you feel compelled, you can Google “cryotherapy celebrities” to find out about others).

The idea comes from the simple observation that applying ice or other types of cryotherapy (cold treatment) can provide pain relief for inflamed, injured, or overused muscles. Another version of cryotherapy is to soak a sore area (such as an arm or leg) or the entire body in cold water (called cold water immersion, or CWI).

The claimed benefit of whole body cryotherapy

According to websites promoting whole body cryotherapy, it may be recommended for “anyone who wants to improve their health and appearance” — which by my estimation would be just about everyone — as well as for

  • recovering from a painful sports injury
  • a chronically painful condition such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • athletes who want to improve their performance
  • weight loss
  • improved mood or reduced anxiety.

And the list goes on. However, the escalating claims of benefit and rising popularity led the FDA to warn consumers recently that, “If you decide to try WBC, know that the FDA has not cleared or approved any of these devices for medical treatment of any specific medical conditions.”

Does whole body cryotherapy actually work?

Good question! One website offering WBC services recommended that customers perform their own search of the medical literature. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Another provided links to dozens of studies that varied so much it was hard to know what to make of them. For example, the temperatures of the cold chambers varied, as did the duration and number of treatments across studies. Some assessed elite athletes or active adults who were generally young and fit, but still others enrolled people with chronic illnesses, such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. And then there’s the question of how to define success. Each study had its own way of assessing the response to treatment.

A recent review of the evidence found that WBC

  • may lower skin or muscle temperatures to a similar (or lesser) degree as other forms of cryotherapy (such as applying ice packs)
  • may reduce soreness in the short term and accelerate the perception of recovery after certain activities, though this did not consistently lead to improved function or performance
  • could be helpful for “adhesive capsulitis” (frozen shoulder), a condition marked by severe loss of shoulder motion that may complicate certain injuries; there are no long-term studies of WBC for this problem
  • did not alter the amount of muscle damage (as reflected by blood tests) after intense exercise.

What are the downsides of whole body cryotherapy?

While whole body cryotherapy is generally considered safe and few problems have been reported with its use, some people are advised to avoid WBC because it may worsen conditions such as

  • poorly controlled high blood pressure
  • major heart or lung disease
  • poor circulation (especially if made worse by exposure to cold)
  • allergy symptoms triggered by cold
  • neuropathy (nerve disease) in the legs or feet.

Local irritations, including skin burns, have been reported, although these should be avoidable with proper preparation.

Perhaps the biggest downside is cost. While first visits may be offered at a discount, a single session may run $20 to $80, and a course of treatment can cost several hundred dollars (and is not typically covered by health insurance in the US).

The bottom line on whole body cryotherapy

From the available evidence, it’s hard to know if whole body cryotherapy reliably prevents or treats any particular condition, or if it speeds recovery or improves athletic performance. And even if it did, there’s little proof that it’s more helpful than much less expensive cryotherapy options, such as simply applying ice to a sore area.

My guess is that the lack of convincing evidence that WBC works is unlikely to diminish its popularity. As long as people are convinced it’s helping (and as long as they can afford it), WBC is here to stay… at least until the next “big thing.”

Whole body cryotherapy in cryo-chamber for treating rheumatoid arthritis

Whole body cryotherapy now occupies a firm position in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The success of treatment has now been confirmed by a whole range of clinical studies.

As already mentioned, the disease processes with these autoimmune disorders primarily play out in the joints (inflammation of the synovial membrane of the articular capsule, destruction of cartilage and bone structures). Nevertheless, although new principles of action (TNF-α-blockade) have recently been included in therapeutic programs, a complex procedure is still required for treatment. This also results from the understanding of rheumatoid arthritis as a systemic disorder that damages the entire organism. Medication-based, if necessary surgical treatment, mobilization therapies, physical therapy (warm or cold applications) and also psychological treatment must be combined with and adapted to the patients’ own personal coping strategies. For this purpose an extensive and excellent source of information is available in the form of literature provided by self-help organizations.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronically progressing illness which is not yet possible to cure despite all the advances that have been made in its therapy. As such the goal of treatment is to achieve a decrease in disease intensity in order to halt or delay its progression.

Whole body cryotherapy can be understood in this context as an adjuvant physical therapy that if applied resolutely can assist in achieving the therapeutic goal. It is not in principle a substitute for other proven therapies even if, as experience and studies have shown, a reduction in drug consumption can also often be achieved upon its application.

Whole body cryotherapy should be given twice per day on a hospitalized basis, or three times with highly active processes, over a period of two to three weeks optimally, where success of treatment should be assessed every two to three days by the doctor. As Dr. Bianka Benkenstein was able to verify in one study, a relief of symptoms, measured by the reduction in pain and restriction of movement, could be achieved with on average 10 to 15 cold exposures, even with a high initial activity of inflammatory disease. The disease manifestation was shortened and the inflammatory activity receded.

Under no circumstances during a cryotherapy should mobilization-therapeutic activities be refrained from. Movement improves the distribution of synovial fluid and in so doing the nutrient supply of the joint cartilage. On the other hand muscle atrophy due to inactivity is also reversed that might otherwise lead to secondary damage, for example at the skeleton.

As acute-clinical, rehabilitative and cure-therapeutic observations also suggest, one can say that under a whole body cryotherapy there is

– an improvement in general well being,

– pain reduction or elimination as well as a reduction of other inflammatory signs such as swelling and warming,

– improvement in general mobility and joint function in up to 60% of the treated cases and

– reduction in medicine intake (glucocorticoids and non-steroidal anti-rheumatics) in 35 to 40% of the patients.

The effects can still be shown three to six months after completion of therapy.

Treating Arthritis with Whole Body Cryotherapy

Arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other rheumatic conditions (AORC), are the leading cause of disability in the United States. Over 50 million Americans have arthritis, 1 in every 5 adults, 300,000 children and countless families. The first steps in conquering arthritis are learning the facts, understanding your condition and knowing that help is by your side.

Arthritis is very common but is not well understood. Actually, “arthritis” is not a single disease; it is an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions. People of all ages, sexes and races can and do have arthritis.

Common arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Symptoms may come and go. They can be mild, moderate or severe. They may stay about the same for years, but may progress or get worse over time. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities and make it difficult to walk or climb stairs. Arthritis can cause permanent joint changes. These changes may be visible, such as knobby finger joints, but often the damage can only be seen on X-ray. Some types of arthritis also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and skin as well as the joints.Reducing these symptoms, thereby enabling patients to engage in necessary weight-bearing exercise, protects patients from further degeneration.

A study conducted at the Institute of Rheumatology in Warsaw compared the outcomes of 40 patients with rheumatoid arthritis divided to receive Whole Body Cryotherapy or Physical Therapy daily for 4 weeks. The outcomes that were tracked were blood markers of inflammation, and patient reported pain scores.

Histamine levels were considerably lower in the blood of patients with RA following Whole Body Cryotherapy and remained lower over a period of at least three months after treatments were discontinued.

Those receiving Whole Body Cryotherapy were also shown to have a therapeutic down-regulation of polymorphonuclear cells and coupled with an up-regulation of calprotectin levels and sodium potassium ATPase activity. No significant changes in histamine levels or the other biochemical parameters were measured in groups of patients treated only with Physical Therapy.

Most importantly, pain scores were significantly diminished and reduced more than they did in those receiving Physical Therapy only. Therefore, Whole Body Cryotherapy can play an integral role in diminishing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Sources:

Cryotherapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis

The benefits of cryotherapy for those living with rheumatoid arthritis, include improved range of motion, reduction in pain and inflammatory markers and reduced medicinal intake. These results combined with an improvement in general well-being has seen cryotherapy become a widely recognised treatment option for rheumatoid arthritis.

In fact, the development of cryotherapy began as a therapy for people living with arthritis. In the 1970’s, a rheumatologist recognised the benefit cryo principles had for his patients and went on to develop cryotherapy.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune and chronic degenerative condition with no known cure. It is one of the most severe forms of arthritis and can lead to long-term joint damage and disability. Therefore, the goal of treatment is to delay progression and decrease symptoms. For those that suffer from the condition, knowing that this is a life long illness can often be difficult to swallow. Koa Recovery exists to enable every body and sufferers of RA are no different. As cryotherapy is a proven evidence-based treatment, it has become a valuable complement to physiotherapy and traditional medical intervention.

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