Chronic pain is not protective and is not an injury, but a disease. It is a persistent pain lasting more than one month after the injury and can remain for a long time even after the complete healing. It is usually resistant to number of treatments and is associated to important psychological symptoms: depression, anxiety, fear, insomnia and behavioral disorder, especially in social relations.
The mechanism that controls the painful process is related to the decrease of nerve conduction velocity, the inhibition of nociceptive fibres and indirectly the decrease of inflammation, oedema, muscular spasm, etc. The application of superficial intense cold blocks or reduces the activity of the Aδ fibres in charge of the transmission of nociceptive information, and the conduction velocity of C fibres is also reduced.
When Whole-body Cryotherapy is applied on a patient that has pain, the physiological process that is triggered starts with the activation of the thermoreceptors on the skin surface area. A competition between the transmission of the nerve impulses of both pain and extreme temperature stimuli is established, being nociceptors responsible for transmitting pain and thermoreceptors for cold. The signal of extreme cold predominates as it is misguidedly translated by the central nervous system as an imminent risk to life.
Cryotherapy for sleep: disorders
Insomnia is the fact of having difficulty to fall asleep, waking up frequently during the night or waking up earlier than normally in the morning. It causes daytime sleepiness and decreases ability to concentrate and to stay active during the day. It is often due to stress, anxiety, depression, heart rhythm disturbances, etc. A long pharmacological treatment should be avoided, and it is convenient to use other techniques such as Whole-body Cryotherapy, behavioural therapy, relaxation techniques and prophylactic measures to help people sleep and get a restful sleep. The cryotherapy for insomnia is one of the most favorable treatments.
If there are neither organic nor psychological causes of the sleep disorder, it is known as primary insomnia. On the contrary, when the disorder is due to chronic pain, it is called secondary insomnia since it is the result of another health disorder.
Experience has demonstrated that, unfortunately, people often think that they are affected by sleep problems even when they are not. Not every difficulty to fall asleep or sleep during the night must be considered as a pattern of sleep disturbance. This belief often leads to a real sleep disorder, especially when using sleeping pills. Before using pills, it is important to understand that sleep is a result of wakefulness. Therefore, it is possible to improve it by simple methods such as physical activity or a behavioral change when facing problems. Physical therapies based on a “stimulus-response-adaptation” principle are suitable to regulate altered sleep patterns. Mental balance and better muscle metabolism are achieved with cryotherapy for sleep. These therapies may even function as a preventive method prior to the development of the disorder.
Cryotherapy for insomnia
This disorder has easily recognizable characteristics:
● Permanent increase of level of activity with unrest and fears during the night and long waking times.
● Tense and unsuccessful attempts to fall asleep, fear of the night.
● Recurrent anxious thoughts impeding sleep, often during waking times.
● Agitation, muscle tension and vegetative symptoms such as palpitations.
● Worsening of stress management and more secretion of stress hormones.
● Daytime sleepiness and poor general performance.
The diagnosis should be based, to the extent possible, on a polysomnography carried out in a sleep laboratory in order to collect data about brain waves and eye movements during sleep. These criteria will help create a sleep profile.
The sleep pattern is normal when:
● It is easy to fall asleep and sleep sufficiently.
● The stages of sleep follow regular cycles and three or four cycles of sleep take place during the night.
● The stages of deep sleep occur mainly during the first half of the night, and the stages of dreaming occur during the second half.
● There are no frequent awakenings.
The sleep profile changes with the aging. This process may be due to physiological causes. It has therefore clinical relevance.
● Deep sleep is less frequent, and stage 4 of deep sleep is rare or non-existent. Stage 3 of deep sleep is shorter.
● The sleeping time is reduced and waking times become more and more common.
Whole-body Cryotherapy can improve insomnia significantly. The results are observable after one week taking one 3-minute session per day.
This sleep disorder has the same criteria and very similar symptoms to primary insomnia. Its causes are different, though: it is due to an organic disorder, as it happens with chronic pain. It often becomes a chronic disease with a negative impact and more pain due to an insufficient treatment for pain or a wrong treatment for a non-existent sleep disorder.
The analgesic effect of Whole-body Cryotherapy is a successful therapy for treating insomnia.
Few sessions are usually enough to reduce pain and get a better sleep. Pain reduction after the application of cold allows to quickly fall asleep and to dispense with the medicine intake.
The standard treatment regime for both primary and secondary insomnia consists of a shock therapy (1 Whole-body Cryotherapy session per day) during 1 week using the Strong program or intense cold, to a final amount of 5 sessions. It will be followed by a maintenance therapy cycle consisting of 2 sessions per week during 1-2 consecutive months. It is recommended to take 2 or 3 cycles per year. Effectiveness is higher if the session is taken in the evening.
Cryotherapy for anxiety
Depression is a temporary or permanent mood disorder. It includes sadness, decay, unhappiness and guilt. It does not allow people to fully or partly enjoy events of everyday life.
Depressive disorders may be accompanied by anxiety at different degrees.
Anxiety consists of an unintentional worry about a future damage. It carries psychosomatic symptoms such as tension that try to warn the individual about an imminent danger so that they can implement measures to face the threat.
Whole-body Cryotherapy is a complementary symptomatic therapeutic option in cases of depression and anxiety. It produces beneficial effects at a somatic and psychic level.
Cryotherapy creates a situation of organic stress that stimulates the pituitary gland and promotes the release of neuropeptides -endorphins- from the spinal cord to the bloodstream. This entails an improvement in mood and has a positive effect in emotional control, leading to happiness, well-being and a better sense of humor that hamper new personal crises. Positive effects are often observable after one week of Whole-body Cryotherapy sessions.