Frostbite Prevention During Cryotherapy

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Cryotherapy is the use of cold to treat soreness, injuries, and many other issues. Many new users of this treatment have asked a relevant question: How can people use cryotherapy without getting frostbite?

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During a session, a cryotherapy chamber fills up with liquid nitrogen. This a dry substance and delivers a dry cold, so it is not wet and uncomfortable for the user. The temperature will reach negative 200 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s colder than the coldest temperature recorded on Earth! Yet, cryotherapy is safe and the user will not freeze. The user may experience a tingling sensation afterward, but that’s as intense as it gets. Granted, this is if everyone follows safety measures.

So, to understand frostbite and its prevention here’s a little overview. What is frostbite?

Frostbite occurs after a long exposure to the cold. It kills tissues after freezing them in the body. Depending on the severity, the victim may or may not recover the lost tissue. Frostbite turns areas of the body blue, then to a darker black color once the damage is more severe. It attacks the hands and feet first since it takes the longest for blood to circulate to the extremities. Frostbite also attacks the ears and nose. Yet, these parts of the body will be safe during a session since the head of a cryo patient is above the chamber.

How can one protect themselves against frostbite during cryotherapy?

To protect against frostbite, patients must wear gloves and boots. These will help protect the hands and feet which will be in the chamber during cryotherapy. Preventing frostbite is as simple as that- wearing the proper clothes. Just as one doesn’t wear shorts and flip flops to a formal event, cryotherapy has its own dress code. Except, in this case, the dress code ensures the user’s health and safety. Another article of clothing that users must wear is a warm robe. The user steps in and out of the cryo chamber wearing the robe and then removes the robe off during treatment. Following the session, the patient puts back on the robe to warm up.

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This completes the required ensemble. During treatment, the body decreases blood flow to the extremities. This will protect the core temperature from dropping. Instead, the body concentrates blood flow to protect internal organs. While the core temperature remains the same, the skin temperature will drop to as low as 41-54 degrees Fahrenheit.

Again, this question concerns safety protocol that people must take. Cryotherapy lasts only three minutes, someone outside the chamber monitors the temperature. It is necessary that someone is outside operating and overseeing the chamber while it is in use. Having a person outside means the temperature and oxygen levels are correct. They can also open the door, though the patient can open the door from the inside as well. Users can move around or turn in circles to help with blood circulation. The patient must keep their head above and outside of the chamber at all times to avoid asphyxiation. This is an important safety measure as it is dangerous to breathe in the liquid nitrogen. If it is too uncomfortable to withstand the cold, the user can always step out. Though there is an operator, the user can open the door from the inside.

Usually, people are able to withstand the cold in the chamber for the full 3-minute session. A 3-minute session is actually much less uncomfortable than a traditional ice bath. Remember, as far as the benefits to the body, 2 minutes in a cryotherapy chamber is equal to 45 minutes in an ice bath. It saves time and is less painful than this traditional form of cold treatment.

Repeating the treatment for the full amount of time is the best way to achieve the desired results. It will be a rewarding experience without the side effect of frostbite. As long as the user is informed of what to do and what not to do, as well as what to wear, they can enjoy the cold therapy.

 

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David Iskander