Cryotherapy is used by people to help reduce inflammation, and there are claims that this treatment improves circulation, boosts the immune system, increase energy, increases weight loss, and reduce the signs of aging. Cryotherapy is being used and researched as a treatment for Fibromyalgia, and it is having promising results. Here is a look at the science behind whole body cryotherapy for treating fibromyalgia.
Cryotherapy started in Japan and uses a device called a cryosauna. For the procedure, a patient stands in a chamber with their head sticking out the top, and they wear socks and gloves. A fog of liquid nitrogen is pumped into the chamber through special compressors, lowering the temperature to -100∘ C (-148∘ F) or below for 2-3 minutes. Participants report higher energy and reduced pain.
The most obvious result of cryotherapy is a reduction in inflammation, similar to icing an injured part of the body. However, fibromyalgia is not a disease of inflammation, so how would this therapy be beneficial in treating fibro? Firstly, we do know that fibromyalgia is caused by an overactive nervous system and that inflammation causes pain. So the idea is that, on a simple level, reducing inflammation may help to reduce the pain that nerves are receiving. Additionally, submitting the body to extreme cold causes the body to react as though it was being attacked by extreme cold. Blood concentrates around the core and the organs, and the body produces special proteins, called cytokines, that help the body repair the damage and reproduce cells despite the cold. The benefits of this are regulation of pain, repair of damaged tissue, and increased circulation.
There have been several studies of the effects of whole body cryotherapy on fibromyalgia, specifically. The conclusions of these studies are positive and report that Cryotherapy can be a very beneficial addition to a treatment regimen for fibro. Most of the participants of the studies reported reduced pain and improved energy and quality of life after the treatment. There are not a lot of these studies, and most use a small sample size and recommend more research. It is important to note that the FDA has not approved the use of cryosaunas, and they have even released warnings against some of the claims that are made about what cryotherapy can do. However, the limited studies definitely seem to show a benefit in fibro patients symptoms.
The use of whole body cryotherapy to treat fibromyalgia seems to have a promising outlook. Since the treatment is not an approved medical treatment by the FDA, the treatments are not covered by most insurance. Cryotherapy facilities usually charge between $60-75 per treatment, and most offer reduced rates when you sign up for several at a time or sign up for a membership that offers unlimited treatments. It is important to discuss adding whole body cryotherapy to your treatment plan with your doctor before trying it.
We hope that you will take a closer look at whole body cryotherapy as part of your treatment regimen for fibro. Have you tried cryotherapy? Please tell us about your results in the comments section.