The Science Behind Cryotherapy for Back Pain Relief

The Science Behind Cryotherapy for Back Pain Relief


Cryotherapy, otherwise known as cold therapy, is used to treat many conditions – including back pain. It is based on the belief that cold temperatures can lessen tissue damage and reduce inflammation. This treatment involves briefly exposing the body to very low temperatures.

The science behind cryotherapy for back pain is simple: research has proven that cold decreases inflammation. It also slows down the nerve signals, giving the body time to heal itself before pain signals reach the brain. Furthermore, cold can make the receptors near an injury less sensitive, making pain less intense.

In addition to providing immediate relief from chronic back pain, cryotherapy may cause cellular changes at a molecular level. Studies suggest that exposure to cold temperatures could improve cell health and function in the long-term, thus increasing our body’s ability to heal itself from painful conditions such as lower back strains or herniated discs.

What is Cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy – the use of cold temperatures to reduce inflammation and pain. Extreme cold stimulates the body’s natural response for producing endorphins and hormones. These can reduce inflammation and provide pain relief. It’s a safe and non-invasive treatment, making it a great option for people looking for natural pain relief.

Let’s learn about cryotherapy for back pain relief.


Cryotherapy is the cold-care method of using ultra-low temperatures to diminish pain and reach therapeutic effects. The word is derived from Greek, with ‘kryos‘ meaning cold and ‘therapeia‘ meaning care. It was initially used in Japan in 1978, to cure rheumatoid arthritis.

It can be done in various ways. These include the whole-body chamber, ice bath and direct application by sprays or wrapping techniques. It can last from 1 to 3 minutes.

People often experience relief from muscle spasms, inflammation, tissue injuries, and chronic pain conditions such as back pain and arthritis. Cryotherapy is also said to

  • reduce muscle tension,
  • extend range of motion, and
  • improve overall well-being.


Cryotherapy is gaining popularity as a way to relieve back pain. It involves a specialist exposing the body to cold temperatures, usually in a cryo chamber. This cold shock response constricts blood vessels and reduces inflammation, helping to heal.

It also can have many other benefits. These include:

  • Decreased pain and tenderness
  • Reduced muscle tension, stiffness and spasms
  • Improved circulation and oxygen flow
  • Invigoration from the cold
  • More energy

To get the most out of cryotherapy, it can be combined with physical therapy or acupuncture. This gives people with chronic back pain a holistic approach to treating their symptoms.

How Does Cryotherapy Work?

Cryotherapy – commonly known as cold therapy – has become a popular choice for back pain relief. It works by exposing the body to very low temperatures, which reduces inflammation and pain, and helps healing. But, how does it work and why is it so helpful? Let’s understand the science behind cryotherapy.

Effects on the Nervous System

Cryotherapy relieves chronic back pain in two ways. Firstly, it offers an alternate stimulus. When we experience cold, our body will shiver. This process is called counter-irritation. It shifts our painful sensation away from the localized area.

Secondly, cryotherapy reduces inflammation. Studies reveal it lowers C-reactive protein and cytokines like TNF-alpha. Cold causes the constriction of blood vessels. This limits how much blood can reach certain areas. Intercellular activity is also decreased, preventing proinflammatory molecules from spiking. This shows cryotherapy can control inflammation.

Effects on the Muscles

Cryotherapy is thought to reduce inflammation and boost blood flow. This can benefit muscles. During the process, pressurized oxygen and nitrogen are super-cooled and then blown onto the skin. The chill causes blood vessels to contract (vasoconstriction), which eases inflammation in that area. This offers pain relief, as well as more joint freedom and shorter recovery time after exercise due to improved circulation. It could also be a substitute for muscle relaxation exercises for those with constant back hurt.

The coldness also helps lessen muscle spasms due to tightness or too much activity. During cryotherapy, the muscles go into a deep relaxation state due to the freezing temperature, which reduces spasms and boosts overall flexibility and range of motion in those regions. The controlled nature of cryotherapy encourages better posture, stopping the body from going back to bad posture such as slouching or hunching. Thus, it can be used to stop injury before it happens, which is great for athletes who want to stay active but avoid getting injured when doing physical activities.

Effects on the Immune System

Cryotherapy is known to promote the immune system. It does this by releasing endorphins and other hormones like cortisol and noradrenaline. This triggers a chain of reactions that strengthen the body’s defence against infections and inflammation. Cryotherapy also eases pain associated with inflammatory conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis and back pain.

Studies suggest that continual cryotherapy sessions can raise the body’s tolerance to high temperatures. This process is called hardening, and it is linked to improved responses to treatments such as exercise or cold therapy for depression.

Research on Cryotherapy for Back Pain Relief

Cryotherapy as a possible treatment for chronic pain, such as back pain, has been identified. Research has proposed cryotherapy to reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain.

We’ll investigate the science of cryotherapy for back pain relief and the research behind it.

Studies on the Effectiveness of Cryotherapy

Since the early 2000s, research has been conducted to investigate cryotherapy’s effectiveness in relieving back pain.

  • One study showed that people who had 10 cryotherapy sessions experienced a 40% decrease in pain intensity.
  • Another study revealed that cryotherapy caused a reduction in inflammation markers.
  • Plus, participants who used cryotherapy prior to exercise performed better and felt less soreness and fatigue than those who did not.
  • Combining physical therapy with cryotherapy yielded more benefits, such as reduced muscle tension, improved flexibility, and better range of motion.
  • Cryotherapy was also tested against the traditional cold-pack method for treating acute back muscle injuries. It resulted in less tenderness and localized inflammation.

Overall, studies suggest combining physical therapy and cryotherapy is a cost-effective and safe way to find long-term relief from chronic back pain.

Studies on the Safety of Cryotherapy

Whole body cryotherapy (WBC) is gaining popularity as a back pain treatment. But, there is a need for more clarity on its potential risks. To address this, many studies have been done.

  • One study looked at WBC’s effects on healthy people. It concluded that it was safe in mild doses and should be recommended to spondyloarthropathy patients with localized axial symptoms.
  • Another study found that WBC reduced inflammation, muscle fatigue and pain in those with postoperative back pain, fibromyalgia and cervical muscle syndrome.
  • A further study showed no significant oxidative stress or kidney function changes from WBC.
  • Lastly, a systematic review found limited evidence of short term effects for disabling low back pain. But, there was no data on its long-term effects on back pain relief. The authors recommended more research before making any firm conclusions.

In short, although some studies suggest that WBC may help with back pain relief, more research is needed to fully establish its safety and efficacy.


Cryotherapy appears to be a helpful option for those with chronic back pain. Evidence shows that it is safe and can be successful. However, the long-term effects are still uncertain.

It is essential to consider that cryotherapy may not be beneficial for everyone. Speak to your physician to see if it is suitable. Furthermore, even if cryotherapy relieves the pain, healthy habits such as exercise and diet are necessary for long-term relief and a better life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is cryotherapy?

A: Cryotherapy is a medical treatment in which the body is exposed to extremely low temperatures to reduce inflammation and pain.

Q: How does cryotherapy work for back pain relief?

A: Cryotherapy reduces inflammation, which is a major cause of back pain. It also triggers the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers.

Q: Is cryotherapy safe for back pain relief?

A: Yes, cryotherapy is generally considered safe when performed by a trained professional. However, it may not be suitable for individuals with certain medical conditions, such as Raynaud’s syndrome.

Q: How many sessions of cryotherapy are needed for back pain relief?

A: The number of sessions needed for back pain relief may vary depending on the severity of the pain and the individual’s response to treatment. Typically, multiple sessions are needed to achieve optimal results.

Q: Are there any side effects of cryotherapy for back pain relief?

A: Some individuals may experience temporary redness, numbness, or tingling in the treated area. Rarely, cryotherapy may lead to frostbite, nerve damage, or skin irritation.

Q: Can cryotherapy be used as a standalone treatment for back pain?

A: Cryotherapy is typically used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for back pain, which may include physical therapy, medication, and other interventions. It is not recommended to rely solely on cryotherapy for back pain relief.

the back recovery program by alex larsson
Jane Smith is a natural health enthusiast on a mission to uncover effective methods for achieving pain-free living. Through her personal journey with chronic back pain, she has become well-versed in holistic approaches such as yoga, Pilates, and essential oils.

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