At times just following the protocol of stretching and warming up may not be enough, and injuries and pain can take place. I know that’s not the best, and no one wants to go through any sort of problem, especially if we have to stay away from the gym.
Still, it surely does not hurt to learn a bit about new procedures out there, does it? The latest word now is Cryotherapy. “The technique uses low temperatures to treat inflammatory and traumatic dysfunctions, mainly the acute ones. That’s done in order to reduce swelling, other than relaxing the muscles”, that’s what Michele Sanches, a beautician at Clínica Daniel Dziabas has told me.
How it Works
Crytotherapy can be done in two different ways: the application of low temperatures directly on the injury or lesion and by submerging the whole body (from the neck down) in a freezing chamber.
The freezing action can contribute to the destruction of the lesions, no matter if benign or malignant. “Other than fast and safe, the procedure is considered to be efficient when it comes to removing benign lesions (for example, warts, seborrheic keratosis), premalignant lesions or even skin tumors, when hardly ever malignant”, says Andréia Munck, a dermatologist.
According to Maurício Garcia, a coordinator of the department of physiotherapy at Instituto Cohen and a physiotherapist at Centro de Traumatologia do Esporte da Unifesp, the temperature of the skin must get to 13.8ºC in order for it to benefit from the therapy. It seems too low, but that is how it works (remember the tubs filled with ice cubes that the athletes use? This technique is quite similar to that one, but with added technology).
Plus, science approves cryotherapy: a clinical trial analyzed the analgesic effects of the procedure in 70 patients who had their shoulders operated. “We came to the conclusion that people undergoing a comfortable temperature of the application (between 7.2 and 13ºC) report less pain, higher levels of satisfaction and comfort, as well as better sleep at night”, Garcia tells me.
Since the technique leads to vasoconstriction of the damaged or overly required tissues that are inflamed, red, hot, swollen and tender, it ends up reducing the local circulation in the skin. “Due to the cooling, the local blood flow slows down, which reduces the bleeding caused by the lesion, and, consequently, it’s possible to restrict the trauma in the area by avoiding more serious lesions” Michele clarifies.
When this vasodilatation happens, the beautician explains that the overflowing liquid in the tissue is reduced, containing, this way, the swelling. “Another effect of the cooling of the tissue is the decrease of the cellular metabolism, which makes the cells work more slowly, including the nerve cells and the pain receptors, which, in turn, leads to higher control of painful stimuli and satisfactory analgesic effects”, she adds.
And there’s more: in the end, cryotherapy helps to control the pain of the inflammation as well as to stop the process from becoming more intense.
Now it’s important to know that cryotherapy should not be performed by just anybody. On the contrary, actually! Situations in which the body is incapable of dealing with the change of temperature because of allergy, hypersensitivity or circulatory deficiency are not recommended to be treated with cryotherapy.
As for the contraindications of the procedure, they include: skin disorders, like hives, infections, pregnancy, recently operated areas, immune system disorders, heart diseases and cancer. “We choose to use cryotherapy in people with fair skin, since one of its complications is the destruction of the melanocytes present in the area of the lesion and next to it, resulting in white spots, called hypochromic macules”, Andréia alerts.
It’s Good for Your Skin
Not only pain and injuries can be healed by cryotherapy: your skin can benefit from it too. After all, we’re talking about a procedure that treats lesions caused by sun exposure, many times malignant ones. Therefore, there’s an improvement of the skin, since it aims at spots and keratosis (small scaly marks on the dermis).
“In case the patients has spots of higher degrees on the skin, that is, if they present lesions caused by intense sun exposure, they can in general treat them with cryotherapy. The cryotherapy treatment can range from 2 to 6 months. It actually varies from case to case”, points Andréia.
Marília Barboni Luz, a dermato-functional physiotherapist at L&L Espaço Vida ao Corpo, adds: “the cosmetic cryotherapy should be split in 10 sessions, twice a week. The cryo-frequency, for which an equipment is used to cool down the tissue, in turn, should be done in 3 sessions.”
So I think you have noticed that the technique we’re talking about here is quite interesting, especially when we consider constant painful lesions. Other than reducing the swelling, we know that cryotherapy also reduces pain.
So, in case you have a lesion, how about seeing a physiotherapist – or dermatologist, if your case is aesthetic – to discuss the procedure? Here is a summary of the key benefits of cryotherapy. Check it out:
- Reduction of pain, through analgesia (analgesic effect).
- Restraint of the inflammatory process and swelling.
- Restriction of the area traumatized.
- Reduction of muscle spasm.
- Decrease of the cellular metabolism.
- Improvement of muscular tonus.
- Reduction of sagging effects.
- Improvement of the look of cellulite.
Well, now you know: in case you have any kind of lesion, consider cryotherapy: it could be the best option for you.