Whole body cryotherapy is useful for arthritis. But it has an uphill fight against the cryotherapy backlash. Some of the backlash is surprisingly even-handed, such as this page from Harvard Health. And some of it, like the Consumer Update issued by the FDA, is less so. Much of the backlash is from Serious People who assume that anything garnering a lot of celebrity endorsements is trendy and therefore suspect.
Celebrities Really Don’t Count
I agree that Jennifer Aniston’s enthusiastic use of whole body cryotherapy (WBC) means very little to you and your arthritis. By the same token, however, Jennifer Aniston’s use of WBC doesn’t necessarily mean it’s useless or that it doesn’t have serious value. I don’t really know what Jennifer Aniston is using WBC for, but it is undeniable that WBC relieves pain. And pain relief has a place in the management of most medical conditions, particularly arthritis.
Arthritis is not a single disease. It’s a catch-all term we apply to about 100 different diseases, most of which cause pain in the joints. The two most common varieties are osteoarthritis, which is degeneration of the joints, and rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune reaction. It’s obvious that the two different conditions will require two different medical treatments. But regardless of the treatment involved, both conditions benefit from regular exercise. When exercise strengthens the muscles around the joints and improves bone strength, it can delay the advance of any kind of arthritis and allow you to lead a more normal life.
WBC Reduces Pain
A study from the year 2000 suggests that WBC reduces pain from all kinds of arthritis. The researchers treated 120 patients suffering from “primary fibromyalgia (40.7%), rheumatoid arthritis (17.3%), chronic low back pain (16.4%), ankylosing spondylitis (10.9%), osteoarthritis (9.1%), secondary fibromyalgia (3.6%) and other autoimmune diseases (1.8%).” They gave these patients 2.5 minutes in the cryo chamber at about -220 degrees Fahrenheit. The result was that patients’ pain levels decreased dramatically. The researchers found that the pain reduction lasted about 90 minutes, prompting them to suggest “Short-term pain reduction facilitates intensive application of physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy.” So these researchers view WBC as preparation for physical therapy. It can also be used to prepare for exercise.
How to Use Whole Body Cryotherapy for Arthritis
So, regardless of what benefits Jennifer Aniston enjoys from WBC, you can use it to help manage your arthritis by reducing your pain level. Once you have enjoyed a 3-minute WBC session, you have a 90-minute window during which you will find it much easier to go for a brisk walk (or even a run), swim a few laps, or pedal a stationary bike.
And, given that there’s no cure for either osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, exercise is your best bet for managing either. Exercise is going to strengthen your muscles and bones, help combat fatigue, and increase your range of motion, all of which bring you closer to a more functional, more normal life.
According to Arthritis By The Numbers (PDF), published by the Arthritis Foundation, about 54.4 million adults officially have arthritis. I say “officially,” because they have been diagnosed by doctors. When you add in people who report the symptoms of arthritis but haven’t been diagnosed, however, the total comes to 91 million. Furthermore, the incidence of arthritis seems to be increasing, and not just because the population is getting older. Almost two thirds (64%) of arthritis sufferers are under 65, including 300,000 children.
This means WBC probably has a bright future, regardless of celebrity endorsements and regardless of the backlash against those endorsements. If you’re trying to manage your arthritis, consider taking advantage of whole-body cryotherapy. Book a session with us.