The origin of pain and its processing and perception, are very complex mechanisms. Nocioceptors that detect pain occur in the skin and joints, as well as muscles and organs. They react to mechanical, thermal and specific chemical stimuli, as well as to severe cold. Many of these nocioceptors are only activated when they are sensitized by disease states eg inflammation. When a pain signal arrives in the brain, endorphins and serotonin are released which forward the signal to the cerebral cortex and alter the perception of pain. GABA formed in the CNS also plays a role in the inhibition of pain. Acting together, these mechanisms reduce the intensity of pain.
WBC has been demonstrated in studies to improve both external and internal pain due to activation of the endogenic opioid and “pain control” systems. (Rymaszewska J, 2008)
Benefits of cryotherapy on pain
- “Counter-irritation”: transmission of pain signals is interrupted due to the high influx of cold-stimulated signals.
- Reduced nerve conduction velocity
- Desensitization or deactivation of nocioceptors due to inhibition within the central nervous system results in reduced ability to detect pain stimuli.
- Reduction of pain memory.
- Longer term use has been shown to adapt to how the body perceives pain stimuli, offering benefits in chronic pain management
- A 3-minute stay in the CryoSauna can inhibit chronic pain for several hours. After several exposures, the effect is enhanced and the pain relief can last for several months. Results are improved by combining behavioral, physical and psychological interventions. (Papenfuss, 2012)
Protocols in pain relief
Management of pain is highly individualized and depends on the nature and cause of the pain. A course of treatments would be worked out in conjunction with your treating health professionals.