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Using extreme cold to reduce pain and inflammation and enhance athletic performance

Pain…dull, sharp, aching, throbbing, sore, lingering--no matter its intensity or location, we want it gone. While there are a multitude of quick fixes, lasting pain relief can remain elusive, especially for those with chronic, inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, or back and neck pain. Enter a refreshing burst of cold air…whole-body cryotherapy. Once an exclusive resource for elite athletes around the world, this revolutionary technology is going main stream, making its benefits not only accessible, but affordable.

Whole-body cold therapy is being used to promote inflammation reduction, muscle recovery, enhanced athletic performance, anti-aging, weight loss and other health-related goals. It may provide relief for an array of symptoms, including stress, insomnia, muscle and joint pain, and headaches.

How Cold is Cold?

While extreme cold has been used to treat inflammation for centuries, it has traditionally taken the form of ice packs, which can be inconvenient and cumbersome or ice baths, which are notoriously time-consuming and uncomfortable.

Today, accelerated cold therapy is administered in just three minutes. The patient steps inside an octagonal-shaped chamber, wearing only protective gloves, footwear and minimal clothing, such as a bathing suit. The pre-chilled cryotherapy chamber rapidly fills with nitrogen mist, which drops the temperature to a range of -275°F to -300°F and temporarily lowers the temperature of the skin’s top layer. While cooling, skin receptors signal the brain to release endorphins and blood is drawn to the core. Upon warming, enriched, oxygenated blood replenishes the extremities and stimulates the immune system. All sessions are continuously monitored and the patient can exit at any time.

Putting the Big Chill on Arthritis

In 1978, Japan originally began using cryotherapy to treat rheumatoid arthritis, a concept that eventually spread to Europe, and ultimately inspired the whole-body cryotherapy systems in use today. True to its roots, the treatment continues to be an option for patients struggling with pain and inflammation. For 20 years, Heather Klebon, sought relief from the intense, chronic pain of rheumatoid arthritis. “I eventually got used to not doing things because it hurt,” she says. “Following my whole-body cryotherapy sessions at First State Health & Wellness, I experienced increased energy, alertness, improved circulation and a huge reduction of pain, especially in the morning when inflammation is usually at its worst. I’ve been able to accomplish the chores I was avoiding.”

A Game Changer for Athletes 

Professional and recreational athletes alike have incorporated the technology into their regimes, using subzero temperatures to help them rapidly recover from strenuous workouts and injuries.

“The whole-body cryotherapy chamber was a quick, convenient way to add cold therapy to my pre- and post-race training for the 2015 Ironman Maryland event,” says Eric Wolf, Certified Personal Trainer and avid tri-athlete. “The treatments helped my body reset itself, significantly reducing my inflammation and soreness, so that I could train harder and recover faster.”

While a relatively new concept to the general public, the use of cold therapy has a lengthy history with many benefits. We invite you to continuously explore new drug-free, surgery-free options for optimal health and healing!

Dr. Tiffany Garcia, DC, is a chiropractic physician and acupuncture practitioner at First State Health & Wellness—Christiana. First State Health & Wellness has been providing award-winning integrative healthcare and education for over 30 years. Services among six offices across Delaware include Chiropractic, Acupuncture, Massage, Functional Nutrition, Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression and Rehabilitation. Learn more at firststatehealth.com or call 302.633.6335 to schedule an appointment in our Christiana office, 302-454-1200 to schedule in our Newark office.

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