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Treating Fibromyalgia With Cryotherapy

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and pressure-sensitive tender points. Symptoms of this condition also include fatigue, sleep problems, depression or anxiety, migraine or tension headaches, and digestive problems. While the exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, studies have found that whole-body cryotherapy can improve quality of life in fibromyalgia patients.  

Understanding Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a complex condition that involves the nervous system, which can impact virtually every part of the body. The symptoms of this condition can’t be seen, are difficult to describe, and can be unpredictable. 

Known risk factors for fibromyalgia include:

  • Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sex and age
  • Repetitive injuries
  • Illness
  • Obesity
  • Stressful or traumatic events
  • Family history

Fortunately, several treatment options aim to relieve some of the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage therapy, physical therapy and cryotherapy. 

How Does Cryotherapy Treat Fibromyalgia?

Cryotherapy, also known as cold therapy, has been an effective treatment for those with fibromyalgia. This therapy exposes the body to extremely cold, dry air (usually between -100°C and -140°C) in an environmentally controlled room for short periods of time. 

In one study, 24 patients with fibromyalgia diagnosis were randomized into 2 groups (11 in the whole body cryotherapy group and 13 in the control group). In the whole body cryotherapy group, 10 sessions of whole-body cryotherapy were performed in a standard cryotherapy room over a duration of 8 days. The people in the control group did not change anything in their everyday activities. 

Results show that patients in the whole body cryotherapy group reported significantly improved for health-reported quality of life and these effects lasted for roughly one month following intervention. 

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Based on these findings, whole body cryotherapy may be recommended as an effective approach in treating symptoms of fibromyalgia. If you suffer from fibromyalgia or other musculoskeletal disorders, contact Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation of NY & CT for information on cryotherapy and how this treatment may benefit you.

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