Whether you are recovering from a specific injury or using cryotherapy to relieve pain and help prevent injury after a hard practice or game, you have a choice in the type of treatment you receive.
- Cryotherapy units feature adjustable wraps with chambers that allow cold water to continually circulate, providing a consistent therapeutic temperature.
- Whole body cryotherapy chambers are extremely cold small rooms that you enter for two to four minutes to bring down the temperature of the entire body.
Although both options offer the benefits of relieving pain and reducing inflammation, a cryotherapy unit has certain advantages over a whole body chamber. In most cases, localized cryotherapy treatment is not only more safe and effective, but also the most desirable method for the following reasons.
Localized Treatment vs. Whole Body Treatment
A cryotherapy unit allows you to target cold therapy to the specific location of the injury, rather than a generalized approach. Most units are paired with adjustable wraps for every part of the body--from head to toe. Although there likely isn’t necessarily a downside to using a whole body chamber to treat tennis elbow or a torn ACL, there isn’t a benefit to doing it either.
The subzero temperatures (-150℉) used in whole body chambers are potentially dangerous and can damage body tissue if the treatment is not executed properly. Although most clinics provide socks, gloves, and protection for the ears, nose, and mouth, it is still possible to experience undesirable side effects like frostbite and cold burns. On the other hand, a cryotherapy unit allows you to have complete control of the temperature, and because the system allows you to control time, temperature (never below freezing) and compression, your skin is never exposed in a way that will risk adverse effects.
Compression Enhances Benefits of Cold
Cryotherapy units that integrate active compression are more effective than ice packs alone, and will allow the cold to penetrate deeper into the damaged tissues than it will with a cryotherapy chamber. The addition of compression increases tissue density so the body temperature decreases more rapidly. The coverage of the wraps that come with a cold therapy unit also ensure that the therapeutic cold penetrates from every angle.
Comfort and Convenience
Whole body cryotherapy chambers are often viewed as an alternative to the ice baths that many athletes use to recover from athletic activity and injuries. Although it may be true that a cryotherapy chamber is more comfortable than an ice bath, it is difficult to argue that a cryotherapy unit isn’t the most comfortable and convenient option. You do not have to remove most of your clothing, your body stays dry, and you can do other activities (read, catch up on e-mail, etc.) while you are being treated.
Cost and Accessibility
Not every physical therapy clinic or athletic department can afford to install a whole body chamber and pay for the ongoing costs of liquid nitrogen. A cryotherapy unit is a much more affordable option, and ice is the only supply you need after you have obtained the machine. Athletes and patients who require ongoing treatment can even take a cryotherapy unit home, so they can get treatment throughout the day whenever they need it. You can’t say that about a whole body chamber.
There might be times when a whole body chamber makes sense, but most of the time it is more convenient, comfortable, and affordable to use a cryotherapy unit like Game Ready. If you are ready to learn more about getting a cryotherapy unit, contact us today.