We recently had a patient ask what we thought about cryotherapy chambers as an alternative treatment for pain. In a cryotherapy chamber, patients are exposed to extremely cold (-1100c to -1400c) air for up to three minutes. The delicate body parts like the hands and feet are protected while the rest of the body experiences the intense cold. Research is being done on the analgesic effect of cryotherapy chambers, however innovation in cryotherapy, such as cold-compression devices make them a better therapeutic choice when treating specific injuries and chronic pain.
Top 5 Reasons to Use Cold Compression Rather Than a Cryotherapy Chamber
- Targeted therapy: With a cryotherapy chamber, the entire body is treated. However, there is little reason to treat the whole body for pain and in the case of chronic pain or injury, it’s actually better to have targeted therapy in order to decrease the pain more efficiently.
- Combined Therapy: While the analgesic benefits of cryotherapy is beneficial, it’s only one part of the equation when treating pain. Pain is usually accompanied by swelling and edema and a cold compression device effectively addresses this issue by providing intermittent pressure to help flush it out.
- Safety: While protective coverings are provided for hands and feet, at the temperatures experienced in a cryotherapy chamber, frostbite and damage to tissue can be a concern. With the targeted results that a cold compression device can provide, there really isn’t a reason to risk the entire body to those temperatures to achieve a decrease in pain.
- Accessibility: It’s not the most convenient for a patient to have to remove most of their clothing in order to receive treatment, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Also, access to affordable cryotherapy chambers aren’t still the norm in most areas. However, cold-compression therapy devices are available in most therapeutic settings and are conveniently available for home use.
- Quality: This goes along with safety; however an establishment that offers cryotherapy chambers is not necessarily a rehabilitative clinic and will not create a treatment regimen according to specific issues normally addressed by physical therapy. If a patient is experiencing chronic pain or injury it is to their benefit and safety to seek treatment from a qualified and licensed physical therapist. Also, physical therapists can not only decrease pain, but educate patients on how to avoid future recurrence, which isn’t available at a general cryotherapy chamber clinic.
Cryotherapy is one of the most popular therapeutic modalities because it can decrease pain in a relatively short amount of time. Cryotherapy chambers have a benefit, but when seeking relief from a chronic pain or injury, using a cold-compression device will be more effective in the long run.
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