Cryotherapy is the term used to describe treatment with cold or cold therapy. It has been a well known fact since ancient times, that cold in the form of ice and snow has therapeutic properties and can help in reducing swelling and pain. A cold compress in the form of an icepack is a common home remedy for all kinds of sprains and joint inflammation and is the most basic form of cryotherapy.
There are many different types of cryotherapy in use today with the commonest being the icepack. Apart from this, coolant sprays, ice massages and whirlpools are also available. Liquid nitrogen cryotherapy is also used by doctors in the treatment of certain skin conditions such as Basal cell carcinoma.
The principles of cryotherapy can be used at home using cryotherapy home kits. Cryotherapy treatment including home treatment is used for a wide variety of disorders such as skin lesions, warts and moles, skin tags (Pappiloma), genital warts (Condyloma), skin cancer (Basal cell carcinoma), Actinic keratoses, Seborrheic ketarosis and Molluscum contagiosum.
In the case of molluscum contagiosum cryotherapy, liquid nitrogen is used by the physician and sprayed directly onto the lesions, destroying the infected cells.
Cryotherapy home kits usually consist of a cooling spray containing dimethyl-ether/propane. These home kits are available at pharmacies but should only be used on the recommendation of your doctor. You should also avoid using them on your face.
Cryotherapy is also used to treat sports injuries such as runner’s knee, tendonitis and sprains as well as to control pain due to arthritis and reduce swelling after a hip or knee replacement surgery. It is an essential part of home care for many injuries, being the "I" of R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation) recommended by medical professionals.
Studies have shown that cryotherapy helps by:
The most modern form of cryotherapy is liquid nitrogen cryotherapy. It is most commonly used in the treatment of warts, moles, skin tags and other skin lesions. Liquid nitrogen takes form at a temperature of 321˚F (or-196°C). These low temperature levels make it a much more effective form of cryotherapy for treating skin lesions than cooling sprays or other substances.
In this form of cryotherapy, liquid nitrogen is dabbed onto the lesion using a Q-tip or sprayed directly onto the wart or lesion. The extremely low temperature of the liquid nitrogen freezes the wart or lesion and destroys the affected cells. A sore or blister will form after the treatment and eventually a scab will form over the treated area. The scab usually falls off within 7 to 10 days.
The procedure usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes and can be extremely painful. For this reason the treatment is not recommended in the case of children as it may be difficult for them to remain still during the session. Larger lesions may need several applications over the course of a few weeks before they fall off.
Liquid nitrogen cryotherapy is not without its risks. Complications that may arise include:
Cryotherapy using liquid nitrogen is usually carried out at surgeries or at skincare clinics. The treatment may not be available in all areas, so check with your doctor beforehand.More articles from the Health Articles Category