The Symmetry Physical Therapy Team took a trip to CryoXtreme in Brickell to give whole body cryotherapy a shot. It sounds a bit like sci-fi movie, but cryotherapy is actually used to boost recovery and help with a ton of diseases* that we see a lot in the physical therapy world:
- Ankylosing spondylitis: Pain inhibits patients to decrease movement – and with that lack of physical activity comes reduced joint mobility, ossification, and degenerative changes. As the disease progresses, people can experience extreme rigidity in the spine, so much so that breathing is severely altered. Cryotherapy can provide an analgesic effect to help with physical therapy and get better results for these patients.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: RA is a chronic autoimmune disease with periods of remission and inflammation of the joints of the body. The anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of cryo are well-received in this patient population.
- Osteoarthritis: Local cryotherapy can be used on the affected joints for decreased pain to help with increased range of motion in the osteoarthritic population.
- Shoulder impingement syndrome: Cryotherapy can decrease inflammatory reactions in shoulder impingement cases, as well as provide that analgesic effect we keep talking about. Because of these effects, range of motion can increase, which is a primary goal of working with these patients.
- Gout: Cryotherapy can provide a short-term reduction in inflammation of gout-affected joints.
- Osteoporosis: A gradual decrease in bone mass over time, as well as reduced strength and elasticity of muscles and ligaments, describes osteoporosis. Painful movement patterns are the result, seriously affecting daily life. Cold treatment has been documented to reduce pain, relax muscles, improve muscle strength, and increase joint range of motion.
- Spinal pain syndromes: Chronic back pain – something many of us are familiar with – can be absolutely debilitating in day-to-day life. Cryotherapy has been shown to decrease pain, relax muscle spasms, decrease nerve tension, reduce the speed of nerve conduction, and allow for more intense physical therapy treatment.
And overall, quite a few positive physiological effects can come from being exposed to cryogenic temperatures*:
- Relaxation and improved well-being
- Analgesic effect
- Neuromuscular effect (muscle strength increased)
- Profuse blood flow
- Increased systemic immunity
- Increased endorphins, norepinephrine, adrenaline, testosterone
- Antioxidant effect
But it’s cold.
Okay, really cold. -220 degrees Fahrenheit, to be exact – yes, that is a negative sign there.
When we got to CryoXtreme, we didn’t really know what to expect, but we were excited (and nervous) to experience cryotherapy. We had to doff our clothes and don some robes – plus tall socks, giant mittens, and highly fashionable rubber shoes (think Crocs), as you can see below.
Looking good, right?
We each went in for just 2 minutes – that seems like nothing, right? Well, at -220 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s no walk in the park. Oh, and you have to ditch the robe when you’re in there too. So basically you’re in a 2-minute blizzard with just tall socks and Crocs on. Oh, and these cool mittens:
While the word “cold” doesn’t even begin to cover it, it actually felt pretty great, especially after the fact. We all went into CryoXtreme with some all-around soreness – be it from working out earlier in the week or just the regular back and neck stiffness from daily life. But we all left with a feeling of pain relief, relaxation, and decreased muscle soreness after our stints in the cryo chamber – and those feelings only increased as time went on.
Cryotherapy is an excellent tool to combine with physical therapy if you want to boost recovery, decrease soreness, feel more relaxed, and decrease pain – it’s just 2 minutes and you can feel benefits right away.
A big thank you to CryoXtreme for giving our team an awesome experience with cryotherapy!
Visit CryoXtreme in Brickell:
92 SW 3rd St Suite #CU1 Miami, FL
And get the added benefits of pain relief and boosted recovery when you come and see us at Symmetry Physical Therapy!
* Lubkowska A. Cryotherapy: Physiological considerations and applications to physical therapy. In: Bettany-Saltikov J and Paz-Lourido B. Physical therapy perspectives in the 21st century: Challenges and possibilities. InTech: 2016.