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Local Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy (Greek kryos – cold + Latin therapeia – treatment) is medical and preventive use of cold factors of various nature. Local cryotherapy means the use of cold factors that reduce tissue temperature not below the limit of their cold resistance (5-10 °С) and do not strongly alter thermoregulation of the body.

Cooling of tissues is accompanied by a reduction of metabolic rate, their oxygen and nutrients consumption. The speed of substance transport through cell membrane is reported to be reduced. Pronounced vasoconstriction in microcirculatory bloodstream, reduction of blood circulation speed and an increase of blood viscosity are observed in cooled tissues. In some time (1-3 hours) pronounced expansion of skin vessel lumen and improvement of blood circulation in them (reactive hyperemia) occur. Cryotherapy has a noted analgetic effect. It is explained by desensitization of skin receptors, reduction of nerve conduction, normalization of antidromic excitability of spinal cord neurons, participation of endogenous opioids in achieving the effects of cryotherapy, vascular control, etc. Cryotherapy reduces the signs of inflammation. The anti-inflammatory effect is based on reducing activity of inflammatory mediators, inhibiting lysosomal proteases, as well as on bacteriostatic effect of the factor. Cryotherapy can be applied to regulate the muscular tone. Reduction of muscular tone has the greatest practical significance. Therefore, analgetic, hemostatic, anti-inflammatory, anti-edematous, relaxing, trophic and regenerative, antispasmodic and desensitizing effects are the main medicinal effects of local cryotherapy.

Local cryotherapy is applied to treat diseases of the musculoskeletal system (rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile chronic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, osteoarthrosis, traumas of joints and particular tissues, fractures), burns, bedsores, nervous disorders and traumas (vertebral osteochondrosis, phantom and causalgic pains, posttraumatic palsies and paralyses, neuralgia, Parkinson's syndrome, etc.), ischemic ulcers and injuries, acute pancreatitis, etc.

Cryotherapy is contraindicated for patients with peripheral vascular diseases (Raynaud's disease, obliterating endarteritis, varicose disease), sickle-cell anaemia, in case of cold intolerance. Cryotherapy is not suitable for children under 5 years.