TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — In a new trend to ease pain and promote healing, people are stepping into a blast of cold air, taking your body to well below freezing levels.
Dr. Tommy Rhee, of Physical Chiropractic of Tampa Bay offers the therapy to extreme athletes and patients experiencing pain from other conditions. He says they treat patients from athletes to those with fibromyalgia; anyone who has that pain irritated by inflammation.
Whole body cryotherapy was first utilized by Dr. Yamaguchi of Japan in 1978 to treat rheumatoid arthritis patients. Patients believe the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of whole body cryotherapy drastically improve joint disorders and arthritic conditions. Now extreme athletes are turning to the treatment for recovery after heavy workouts.
Cryotherapy is compared to an ice bath for athletes. “But, it’s brief and doesn’t damage skin tissue,” explained Dr. Rhee.
“Immediately, I felt effects like less soreness in my joints. I felt perhaps inflammation was down,” said Sunny Alexander, head trainer at Dale Mabry Crossfit.
Many people swear by cryotherapy, but it’s come under some scrutiny after a Las Vegas spa employee was found dead last month in the chamber of one of those machines. However, industry experts point out the woman ventured into the machine alone, and it didn’t have an emergency off switch. “The patients [make] sure we have eye contact the entire time, and having a little communication as we go through the process,” said Dr. Rhee.
Rhee explains it’s important to keep your head above the mist, and bare in mind, you will be cold as temperatures dip below 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The treatment lasts for about two minutes.
Females don’t wear any clothes for the treatment and males have to wear briefs, said Rhee. As soon as patients get out of the chamber, they feel a rush of warmth, and can jump into a comfortable robe.
Since cryotherapy chambers are not considered “medical devices” they are not regulated by the state. However the state of Florida does regulate businesses that use nitrogen gas needed to operate the chamber. Dr. Rhee keeps his certifications posted for his patients to review. People interested in the service can also contact the Florida Department of Business Professional Regulations to make sure a provider has a license to handle nitrogen gas.
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