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Because cryotherapy may be helpful at reducing inflammation, eliminating pain, and improving joint function, many people have wondered whether it is a beneficial therapy for people with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Can Cryotherapy Help People with MS?
MS is a disease where the immune system eats away at the protective covering of the nerves. It is not a joint or muscle illness but can impact how joints and muscles function. It is considered an autoimmune disease, but because it is a disease of the brain and nerves, it is also a neurological disease. It is also considered a chronic inflammatory disease, which may have localized lesions of inflammation.
Cryotherapy has been seen as a treatment for inflammation and pain for centuries. Administering extreme cold to the body has been one way to treat pain and has been around since people had the ability to harness cold temperatures. Empirical evidence shows people that cold temperatures can reduce inflammation, and the medical evidence backs it up. Whole body cryotherapy goes beyond the local use of things like ice packs. Instead, it uses a chamber of super-cooled air to expose someone’s whole body to extremely cold temperatures for brief periods of time (4 minutes or less).
So far, researchers know that whole body cryotherapy can help ease pain for people with inflammatory conditions. That means that using cryotherapy can help with symptom management. One study has found that people with moderate to severe MS may see an improved quality of life, reduced fatigue, and improved ability to walk if they use whole body cryotherapy.
Cryotherapy and MS, What Are The Benefits?
We do not know if the benefits may be longer-term. MS is an inflammatory disease and cryotherapy reduces inflammation. Whether or not the short-term effects of boosting the body’s natural anti-inflammatories can have a long-term effect is simply unknown, at this point in time. However, studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that cryotherapy may relieve pain, help reduce inflammation, boost mood, and increase mobility for people with MS.
The FDA has not approved whole body cryotherapy as a treatment for MS. That does not mean that it is ineffective, just that the FDA does not have enough evidence to approve it as a treatment. However, if you have MS symptoms and are looking for relief, we urge you to discuss whole body cryotherapy with your doctor. If your doctor gives you a green light to try the therapy, we can schedule a session and see if whole body cryotherapy can help you with your MS symptoms.