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Cryotherapy: The Coolest Way to Fight Pain (that You’re Probably Already Using)

By Hillary Oberpeul | December 4, 2017 Pain Relief
 Cryotherapy: The Coolest Way to Fight Pain (that You’re Probably Already Using)

Get the cold, hard facts about cryotherapy and how it helps fight pain.

Cryotherapy is just a fancy term for cold therapy—and cold therapy is nothing new. Ice has been used for centuries to alleviate the pain and swelling from injuries big and small. But as science and modern medicine have evolved, so have the ways we “ice.” Today, you can get the same cold therapy benefits without ever breaking out the ice bag! Learn how cryotherapy can help you and what options you have in cold therapy products—like using a topical pain reliever or wearable cold pack.

What is Cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy (or cold therapy) is the use of low temperatures for medical purposes. It’s often used for reducing pain and inflammation—the kind that comes with sprains, pulled muscles, injured ligaments and strained tendons. It’s an easy, inexpensive way to get targeted, noninvasive pain relief.

How Does Cold Therapy Work?

The truth is, no one knows for sure how cold therapy works—but researchers have proven that it can work for pain relief. There are many working theories about how this pain relief method helps people find relief. One of the most popular theories is called the Gate Control Theory. To understand the Gate Control Theory, you first have to understand how pain works.

Your perception of pain is regulated by nerve cells. Nerves carry pain signals from receptors in the skin to the spinal cord, and eventually to the brain where pain is perceived.

The Gate Control Theory says that when you apply cold therapy over a painful area, a different sensation is sent to the brain. This time, as signals travel from the skin to the spinal cord, the cold sensation blocks the pain signal from reaching your brain. As a result, your perception of pain is blocked.

Think Twice Before You Grab the Ice Bag

While ice is an effective way to reduce pain, it does have some disadvantages, like stiffness, skin irritation, temporary pain and numbness, and inevitable leaks as the ice melts. Plus, many people find it challenging to devote 20 minutes to sitting with an ice pack. Whether you’re a parent, an athlete or an everyday pain sufferer, you often need a quick and effective way to get relief and get on with your day. That’s where science comes in to help you out.

Try On-the-Go Cold Therapy Pain Relief

If you can’t find time to ice, you’re not alone. Even though doctors recommend just 20 minutes of ice application for pain relief, many of us balance full workdays with families, meals, workouts and more. So every minute counts!

When it comes to cold therapy on the go, many healthcare professionals recommend Biofreeze® pain reliever. This topical analgesic uses menthol to deliver cooling pain relief without the disadvantages of ice. Whether you use the gel, roll-on or spray, Biofreeze takes only second to apply and begins working quickly. In fact, in a study on the effects of Biofreeze and ice on neck pain, researchers found that a ten-minute treatment of Biofreeze decreased pain nearly twice as much as ice. Plus, you can apply it then carry on with your busy day.

You can also try using a cold therapy ice pack, like a TheraPearl pack. Many of them come with a velcro strap to keep the pack where you need it, and they’re comfortable and reusable. They can be frozen and worn on areas like your neck, arm or knee. Cold packs provide consistent, targeted cold therapy without the mess of melting ice packs.

Find Cold Therapy That Works for You

Whether you experience low back pain, arthritis, muscle soreness or swelling, cryotherapy can help alleviate discomfort. It doesn’t have to be expensive, messy or risky. Luckily, there are topical sprays, gels and wearable packs, so you can figure out which works best for you and your busy lifestyle.

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