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Cryotherapy for Chronic Pain

In recent years Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) has been a popular treatment modality for sports performance and recovery. However, when it was first invented in Japan (1978) by Dr Toshima Yamauchi the aim was to help patients suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms such as joint pain, sweeling and stiffness. As a result, with a growing number of chronic pain patients recent studies have looked at the alternative treatments such as cold application and specifically WBC.

Chronic Pain

According to the Action-On-Pain charity, as many as 1 in 4 people in the UK are affected by this condition. Most recent survey on 4.4k participants conducted for BBC confirmed the above findings. It is one of the leading sources of suffering and disability, caused by either previous physical pain or of unknown origin. At Light Blue Clinic (LBC), anything lasting more than three months is considered as chronic when it is caused by an injury, moreover, we do also consider psychosocial factors when forming a management plan for a patient. Perhaps the International Association for the Study of Pain best defines it;

“An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage”

Dealing with Chronic Pain

As an example, on the renowned John Hopkins Medicine University website which exists to educate medical students, scientists, health care professionals and the public,

the advice for management of chronic lower back pain is described in 7 steps;

  1. Physical Therapy,

  2. Mindfulness and Meditation,

  3. Diet,

  4. Lifestyle Modifications,

  5. Injection Based Therapies,

  6. Alternative Treatments (such as WBC),

  7. Pharmacologic Treatments.

At LBC we provide at least four of the above modalities and if things aren’t improving we will refer you to a consultant specialising in chronic pain. However, since our opening of the new Cryotherapy clinic in Girton we have had a number of patients suffering with a variety of systemic conditions that wanted to try WBC for management of their chronic pain.

Can Cryotherapy help with Chronic Pain?

Researchers such as Garcia et al. (2021) have set to review existing literature in order to determine the effectiveness of using WBC for patients suffering from the chronic pain. The database of human studies between 2000-2020 has been searched and the researchers identified 25 studies that matched their criteria. Following the studies selection, authors divided them to subgroups of; rheumatoid diseases, degenerative diseases and other. Click here and review Table 1, 2 and 3 to see the outcomes for each study.

In conclusion of this study and results section Gacia et al. made the following statement;

“Both local and non-local cryotherapy applications show promise in reducing chronic pain associated with various chronic diseases including those of rheumatic and degenerative origin. Cryotherapy appears to be a safe therapy in carefully selected patients, with only minimal adverse effects reported in the literature.”

Can I use Cryotherapy to help me with Chronic Pain?

WBC is a treatment that uses extreme cold for therapeutic benefits and therefore, not everyone will be able to join in. Ahead of your initial appointment we will request for you to answer health questionnaire in order to rule out any contraindication. In addition, we will check your blood pressure at your first appointment. Follow this link to check what health conditions are not recommended for the WBC use. If you have a medical condition listed but you found enough empirical evidence supporting the use of WBC, we will need a written consent from your physician. We understand there is more research emerging and are supportive in promoting holistic approaches such as cold therapy.

Please give us a call on 01223 504 723 or email us on if you have any other questions.

Come and try!

LBC Team

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