Although you will find if you search hard enough, reports of whole body cryotherapy (WBC) providing minimal benefits for inflammatory rheumatic diseases. I believe there is more than enough anecdotal and scientific research that clearly shows that WBC is a proven method used to relieve pain and inflammation successfully in rheumatic diseases. Through my research and other blogs I have found enough evidence to suggest WBC is an innovative technique that offers not only many rapid therapeutic effects but also health and wellbeing advantages for people over any other cold therapy modality.
With studies comparing the effects of WBC on pain reduction, disease activity and pro-inflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor-[TNF-]alpha and interleukin-[IL-]1), it was found that an improvement in functional scores were recorded amongst all participant. (1)
“But what does all this scientific jargon actually mean” I hear you say?
Interleukin (IL), is any of a group of naturally occurring proteins that mediates communication between cells. Interleukins regulate cell growth, differentiation, and motility. In layman's terms, they are particularly important in stimulating immune responses, such as inflammation. (2)
To understand further the benefits of WBC for inflammatory rheumatic diseases, researchers took patients with different active inflammatory rheumatic diseases (four patients with rheumatoid arthritis, three patients with ankylosing spondylitis, and three patients with psoriatic arthritis/spondylitis). All these patients underwent sessions of WBC and the results saw pain and disease activity scores decrease significantly. Subsequently, functional scores showed a significant amelioration as that did in other research. Furthermore, there was a significant reduction in TNF-alpha and IL-1. (1)
Another key point to note is that people with inflammatory rheumatic diseases often lack the ability due to immobilisation and pain to actively partake in positive cardio activities. This leads to high rates of cardiovascular disease. With WBC being an effective tool to reduce inflammation and pain, it's appropriate to say that this may be an innovative therapeutic strategy to improve the aerobic capacity in arthritis patients. Consequently reducing their cardiovascular risk while minimising pain and disease activity at the same time. (4)
I believe it's safe to say that there is enough evidence in the literature and personal testimonies of persons suffering from inflammatory rheumatic diseases, that demonstrates the benefits of this intervention on pain relief and disease activity worth giving WBC a shot. We can also conclude that WBC offers patient's an attractive therapeutic option for the treatment of inflammatory rheumatic diseases. Along with other strategies such as corticosteroid and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications prescribed from your physician. (3)
(1) Lange U, Uhlemann C, Müller-Ladner U. Serielle Ganzkörperkältetherapie im Criostream bei entzündlich-rheumatischen Erkrankungen: Eine Pilotstudie [Serial whole-body cryotherapy in the criostream for inflammatory rheumatic diseases. A pilot study]. Med Klin (Munich). 2008 Jun 15;103(6):383-8. German. doi: 10.1007/s00063-008-1056-5. PMID: 18548207.
(2) Justiz Vaillant AA, Qurie A. Interleukin. [Updated 2020 Aug 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499840
(3) Lange U, Uhlemann C, Müller-Ladner U. Serielle Ganzkörperkältetherapie im Criostream bei entzündlich-rheumatischen Erkrankungen: Eine Pilotstudie [Serial whole-body cryotherapy in the criostream for inflammatory rheumatic diseases. A pilot study]. Med Klin (Munich). 2008 Jun 15;103(6):383-8. German. doi: 10.1007/s00063-008-1056-5. PMID: 18548207.
(4) Peres D, Sagawa Y Jr, Dugué B, Domenech SC, Tordi N, Prati C. The practice of physical activity and cryotherapy in rheumatoid arthritis: systematic review. Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2017 Oct;53(5):775-787. doi: 10.23736/S1973-9087.16.04534-2. Epub 2016 Dec 19. PMID: 27996221.