Cryotherapy in the treatment of rheumatic disease.
Cryotherapy is the application of a temperature lower than -100 C to the outer surface of the body, for a period of 2-3 minutes, in order to evoke and make use of physiological reactions to cold. The body’s positive response to cryotherapy is a supportive factor in the treatment of the underlying disease and facilitates kinseitherapy.<br /> Low temperatures, obtained by injecting air chilled with liquid nitrogen vapor, can be applied either locally, on selected parts of the locomotor apparatus, or generally, on the entire body (in a cryosauna or cryochamber). The best therapeutic effects are obtained by applying cryotherapy twice a day, with at least a 3-hour interval between procedures. Kinesitherapy is necessarily applied after each cryotherapy session. This form of treatment should be continued for 2 to 6 weeks, depending on the patient’s individual needs.<br /> Cryotherapy reduces pain and edema, relaxes skeletal muscles, and increases the range motion in the treated area, which makes it possible to conduct exercises increasing muscle strength. Thus cryotherapy would seem to meet all requirements for use in the rehabilitation of patients with rheumatic diseases.<br /> Cryotherapy requires little time to apply, is well tolerated by patients, and leads to rapid improvement of the patient’s status after application. The relatively small number of contraindications makes cryotherapy a method of choice for broad application in the treatment of rheumatic diseases.