Cryotherapy to end joint pains?

Do you have pain in your joints that don’t go away? Or do you toss and turn in bed all night, unable to sleep? Maybe you should just chill, quite literally.

A city hospital has introduced ‘whole body cryotherapy’, that involves exposing the patient to freezing temperature as extreme as minus 110 degrees Celsius, to jolt the pain away.

Cryotherapy is the high-tech version of the age-old method of healing pain with cold. However, it aims to work on the pain centers of the brain, rather than the localised pain sites.

A typical cryotherapy session would involve the patient donning a bathing suit and walking into chamber 1, which is maintained at a temperature of minus 60 degrees, using special refrigerants.

After 30 seconds of allowing the body to acclimatize to the cold, the patient enters the second chamber, into a dry cold temperature of –110 degrees.

“For two to three minutes, we ask the patient to slowly walk around the second chamber. The more the body is exposed, the better, but we have special gears to protect the fingers and face from frostbite,” explained Dr S. Sivamurugan, director, Soundarapandian Bone and Joint Hospital, where the therapy has been launched, as a first in the country.

“Whole-body Cryotherapy was first engineered in Japan in 1978; we have over 30 years of evidence on how it works. The extreme cold stimulates the brain to release endorphins and other pain-relieving factors.

It also modulates the immune system, which helps improve inflammatory and autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and even psoriasis,” explained Dr Sivamurugan.

“For patients with arthritis and ankylosispondylitis who have suffered with pain for many years, pain becomes habitual for the brain. It takes around 20 sessions of cryotherapy to break the brain’s ‘pain loop’ in chronic cases,” he says.

People with migraines, insomnia, fibromylagia, neck and backaches can benefit from the therapy, which is a rage among sportspersons and Olympic champions in Europe, who use it to improve performance and invigorate body and mind ahead of the events.

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