You’ve likely heard about the holistic benefits of cryotherapy reported by athletes, but what about for those suffering from arthritis? One out of every five US adults is currently dealing with the pain and discomfort associated with this chronic disease. In honor of May being National Arthritis Awareness Month, we want to explore how those suffering from this chronic disease use cold therapy (like cryo) to help with their pain management.
The Arthritic Origins of Cryotherapy
While the use of cold therapy for injury and inflammation can be dated back as far back as 2500 BCE, whole body cryotherapy (or “WBC”) as we know it today originated in Japan back in 1978. Discovered by Dr. Toshima Yamaguchi, the treatment was first used to ease the pain and discomfort associated with rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disorder that occurs when your immune system attacks its own tissue. Dr. Yamaguchi discovered that freezing therapy had the power to release endorphins in his patients and decrease their overall sensitivity to pain.
Arthritis By The Numbers
With more than 54.4 million Americans diagnosed with Arthritis, it is the most common disability in the United States. Arthritis is a general term that accounts for more than 100 joint inflammation conditions and diseases. This rheumatic condition is known to cause significant pain and is usually accompanied by stiffness, aching, or swelling. Symptoms can occur suddenly or build up overtime and are generally caused by injury, genes, immune system dysfunction, infections, or metabolism abnormalities.
The pain associated with arthritis is chronic, meaning it will last for six months or more. In some cases, like with rheumatoid arthritis, the pain lasts for life and will chronically progress. This pain is wreaking havoc on many people’s quality of life. In fact, one-third of those diagnosed with arthritis are limited in the type of work they can pursue, the number of hours they can work, or their ability to work at all.
Despite significant improvements in therapy, a cure has yet to be discovered. As such, learning to manage arthritis pain is an essential part of living with and treating the disease. Sadly, many sufferers are not sure how to reduce their symptoms and relieve the pain.
Impact of Cold Therapy on Arthritis
The Arthritis Foundation says that two of the simplest, least expensive yet most effective methods for pain relief are heat and cold therapy – they recommend using cold therapy for acute pain. Check out this article from Arthritis Health on When and Why to Apply Cold Therapy for more information.
Cryotherapy – An Alternative Approach
While cryotherapy cannot cure arthritis, preliminary studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that it could help ease the pain and inflammation associated with this debilitating condition due to the fact it is a form of cold therapy. While this is a relatively new treatment and research is ongoing, a recent industry survey with over 300 respondents found that whole body cryotherapy participants reported the #1 benefit was pain relief.
The Future of Arthritis
As Baby Boomers continue to age, the prevalence of arthritis is expected to increase in the next few decades. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention an estimated 78.4 million (25.9% of the US adult population) will be diagnosed with arthritis by 2040. That’s a significant increase compared to the 54.4 million suffering today. While you can’t always prevent arthritis, you can pursue healthy habits to decrease your risk of developing painful joints.
If you are suffering from arthritis, know that you are not alone. Head over to Arthritis Foundation to learn more about how you can get involved during National Arthritis Month. Or, if you are interested in learning more about cryotherapy and how it can help with natural healing and wellness, go here.