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Put the freeze on pain

Cryotherapy chambers growing in popularity

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Ken Stoddart loves to work out hard, but sometimes he can overdo it.

"I have a shoulder problem that's just inflamed from overuse.  I have a knee injury because I'm a bigger guy," he explained.

So, Stoddart ices his inflammation and injuries in a cryotherapy chamber.  

"It's very tolerable," he said. "The sessions last three minutes and you come out feeling really energized." 

Cryotherapy chambers convert liquid nitrogen to vapor, which swirls around your exposed skin. at temperatures as low as minus 166 Fahrenheit.  

"It's been proven that, you know, cold therapy is a good solution for people to recover from ailments, as well as, you know, soreness," said Anthony Ricci with
Chill and Body Cryotherapy Chambers.

"Similar to an ice bath, that's cold therapy, or cryotherapy.  What we did is find a way to do it quicker, more efficient and less painfully," added Chad Finnegan with Impact Cryotherapy.

It's all the rage with professional athletes, and is now hitting mainstream America with more and more places offering cryotherapy chamber sessions.  Some claim it helps rev the body before a workout while others emphasize the impact after exercise. The chambers were originally created to help ease arthritis issues.

"The cryotherapy has limited studies on it but in some of the studies they have shown that it can reduce the inflammatory response," explained David Pascoe, an exercise science professor.

Pascoe says while cryotherapy is generally safe for healthy people, there are some who need to keep clear of it.

"Those that already have a compromised or a diminished cardiovascular and thermoregulatory system, poor circulation to limbs, hands, feet, this would actually put them at greater risk," he warned.

Cryotherapy chambers are not promoted as medical devices and therefore are not subject to FDA clearance or approval. Because of this, Pascoe advises you do your homework before making an appointment. 

"Check who is actually providing the service," he advised. "What's their background? What's their understanding of the machine?"

As for the claims that it can help fight aging, Pascoe disagrees.

"This is not a fountain of youth," he said. "If it was, then those living in the cold environments would have natural enhancement.  As far as the treatment and therapy, I'd make sure I check with my physician and make sure I have no underlying issues prior to coming in and having a treatment."

Experts add, it's critical that users make sure all body parts are completely dry before they enter a chamber to protect from possible injury.

Links to studies on cryotherapy: