Whole-body cryotherapy aims to help chronic pain relief, recovery

A cryotherapy chamber exposes patients to minus 240 degrees Fahrenheit for three minutes. A cryotherapy chamber exposes patients to minus 240 degrees Fahrenheit for three minutes.[/caption]

Caulen Lauria and Neri Romero, co-owners of Cryo Body Works on Hydrige Drive, say they have seen firsthand what whole-body cryotherapy, or WBC, can accomplish.

Before being introduced to cryotherapy, Lauria worked in motorsports as an athletic trainer and manager. Romero was in nursing school.

A friend of the couple was involved in a motorcycle accident in which he broke his neck, collarbone and most of his ribs; he also suffered a concussion, Romero said.

Doctors told him it would take 1.5 years of physical therapy to return to a normal life, but after two months of daily WBC sessions, Romero said, the friend was already beginning to recover.

“We were absolutely amazed at how he looked before and how he looked after the consistent sessions,” she said, adding the friend made a full recovery.

Soon after the incident, Lauria left motorsports, and Romero dropped out of nursing school. The couple opened Cryo Body Works in July 2014, and since then Lauria said he has seen the treatment work wonders on sore athletes, surgery patients and people with skin disorders. Clients with fibromyalgia, which can cause chronic pain and sleep problems, experience “tremendous” relief, Lauria said.

“Nothing has worked as well to give them an active lifestyle back,” he said.

WBC sessions are a maximum of three minutes long, Lauria said. Clients strip down to their underwear, cover their hands with mittens and feet with slippers and step into a cylindrical chamber that exposes them to nitrogen gas that is minus 240 degrees Fahrenheit.

The gas lowers the temperature of the skin enough to convince the brain that the body is being threatened, according to the nonprofit Marion Institute Biological Medicine Network, a Massachusetts-based incubator for programs that examine the root cause of an issue.

The brain then releases endorphins to lessen the body’s sensitivity to pain. It also constricts blood flow to muscles and tissues to send more blood to the body’s core to protect vital organs, according to the institute.

As the blood circles the body’s core, it is enriched with oxygen and other nutrients, and any impaired or low-functioning organs the body did not consider critical before are then bolstered so they can begin to recover, according to the institute.

At the end of the session, when the client steps out of the cryochamber, the brain allows blood—now rich with oxygen and nutrients—to flow throughout the whole body, enhancing it in the same way it enhanced the body’s vital organs during the cold blast, according to the institute.

Medical cryotherapy

Dr. Eric Giesler said he uses cryotherapy to treat prostate cancer patients at The Urology Team on Jollyville Road.

Unlike WBC, which does not penetrate the skin, cryotherapy for cancer treatment goes directly into tumors. Giesler said he fills a long needle with a blend of helium and argon gases and inserts it through the skin and into the center of the tumor, encompassing it in a ball of ice.

“It’s basically freezing the tumor to death,” he said.

Giesler said erectile dysfunction is a common side effect of the process, but most of his cryotherapy patients already have the condition. By and large the process yields fewer side effects than surgery, he said. For example, surgery can result in urinary incontinence, but cryotherapy will not, he said. Cryotherapy is also less invasive, he added.

“I did two [procedures on patients] yesterday,” he said. “They’ll be up on the golf course or whatever they want to do in a week.”

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