Frostbite prevention during cryotherapy
Many new users of cryotherapy- the use of cold to treat soreness, injuries, and many other issues-have asked a relevant question: How can people use cryotherapy without getting frostbite?
During a treatment, a cryotherapy chamber fills up of liquid nitrogen as a dry substance. The temperature will reach under 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 afterwards, but that’s as intense as it gets- granted safety measures are followed.
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, and 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 easily. 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 it during cryotherapy?
To protect against the unpleasant outcome of frostbite. It is required for patients to wear gloves and boots to protect the hands and feet which will be in the chamber. 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 is there to ensure the user’s health is not on the line. Another article of clothing that is worn is a warm robe. The user steps in and out of the cryo chamber wearing the robe, then takes the robe off during the treatment. Following the session the patient puts back on the robe to warm up.
This completes the required ensemble for the cold treatment. Inside of the chamber, the body prevents the core temperature from dropping by decreasing blood flow in the extremities and concentrating this blood flow to protect internal organs. While the core temperature remains, the skin temperature drops as low as 41 to 54 degrees Fahrenheit.
Again, this question mainly concerns safety protocol that must be taken. Cryotherapy lasts only three minutes, and the temperature inside is monitored by someone outside the chamber. 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. For the user, it is advised that they move around or turn in circles to help with circulation. The patient must keep their head above the chamber at all times to refrain from breathing in the liquid nitrogen. If it is too uncomfortable to withstand, the user can always step out, since the door can be opened 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 during cryotherapy.