How Cryotherapy Reduces Pain

There is one aspect of our biological nature that we simply can’t escape: pain. Our bodies produce pain as a warning signal, but we’re often not able to turn it off. This means that anything from frequent exercise to autoimmune disorders can trigger pain — disrupting our lives with false alarms. Many rely on medication for pain relief, but what if you could use something more natural for the relief you need? Cryotherapy might be the answer you’ve been looking for!

Cryotherapy taps into our bodies’ natural inflammation response and healing systems to promote pain relief. Best of all, it can be used for almost anyone with minimal side effects — unlike harsh pharmaceuticals or surgical remedies! Keep reading to learn how cryotherapy reduces pain and whether it’s right for you.

What is Cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy is the use of extreme cold on the body to trigger its natural healing responses. For example, inflammation is a common effect of injury, as blood vessels swell to bring nutrients to the affected area. Unfortunately, our bodies don’t always interpret those injury signals correctly. In some cases, sustained inflammation can lead to further damage.

Just like an icepack, cryotherapy minimizes inflammation, then restimulates blood flow to deliver strategic healing. Cryotherapy offers many different benefits for a variety of conditions, ranging from skincare to pain reduction. It comes in many forms, from something as simple as an icepack on a sore leg to an entire cryotherapy chamber that delivers maximum cold and pain relief.

There are so many benefits to particularly for those who suffer from chronic pain. 

The Science

The most basic form of cryotherapy is to apply cold to an injured body part. When exposed to cold, blood vessels shrink. This reduces the overall blood flow to an area, thereby easing the swelling. That initial inflammation is the body’s attempt to bring nutrients for recovery.

However, our bodies can’t always tell the difference between life-threatening injuries and stress-related responses. Unfortunately, swollen body parts are typically less mobile, which can actually increase the risk of chronic injury.

Cryotherapy reduces the initial inflammation, allowing the body part to recover from the strain. Then, when the coldness is removed, blood flow resumes, bringing invaluable nutrients. Now, though, the body is better able to accept them for its healing processes.

Clinical practice is to use cryotherapy on a soft injury at least 2-3 times a day, for 20-30 minutes at a time. This reduces nerve activity so that the troubled area sends fewer pain signals to your brain. It also reduces swelling and inflammation, which lowers discomfort and can help you heal faster.

The Method

You don’t have to be a star athlete to take advantage of these techniques. Cryotherapy is suitable for everyone, whether your pain is due to work-related stress, repetitive motion, mild strains, or pain disorders. It may be used to treat chronic pain as well as minor injuries such as back pain or a sprained ankle.

Cryotherapy can serve as the “I” in “R.I.C.E,” i.e. the “Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation” technique advised for sports injuries and repetitive stress injuries. However, coldness can help relieve pain and promote healing in any inflamed body part, no matter the cause.  

It can involve something as simple as using an ice pack a few times a day. Even a pack of frozen food can suffice! The idea is to reduce inflammation, particularly after physical activity that exacerbates the pain.

Make sure to wrap your ice pack in a towel to protect your skin. Apply it to the sore or injured area for 20-30 minutes at a time. You may do this up to a few times a day. Note that your body does require blood flow to heal, so use cryotherapy after exercise or work, when your body is most inflamed. Later, let the injured body part enjoy blood flow to nourish new cell growth.

For those who need full-body treatments or longer cold exposure, specialized facilities offer ice baths and whirlpools. These involve fully submerging your body in cold water or ice for brief amounts of time. More is not always better: the primary benefit of cryotherapy is the minimized inflammation followed by a period of renewed blood flow. 

Wrapping Up – Cryotherapy is for Everyone!

Cryotherapy is an excellent option for easing chronic pain or the pain associated with an injury or repetitive stress. It disrupts your body’s false pain signals while reducing inflammation and promoting healing. This can help you feel better sooner.

Used as part of a plan involving rest, compression, and elevation, it can ease your pain and help you heal. If you have chronic pain or are an athlete, using cryotherapy long-term can help reduce your pain and soreness, and help you recover from a tough workout faster.

To discover the benefits of cryotherapy for pain relief, book a session at Icebox Therapy. Our Wellness Coordinators will help you find your best options, whether you’re dealing with chronic pain or an acute injury.