A Big Chill
The first time you step into a cryotherapy chamber can be quite unnerving, knowing that soon your entire body will be surrounded by extremely cold air that can go as low as -240 degrees.
But the anxiety of the unknown is quickly displaced by the discovery that it isn’t nearly as cold as you imagine it to be and that the treatment can definitely help with a variety of conditions.
Lancaster native Jen Greenberg is a living testament to the benefits of cryotherapy. This married mother of two became interested in the therapy after, “as hokey as it sounds, seeing a special on Dr. Oz,” she said.
Greenberg, who had struggled with chronic back and hip pain for over 15 years, tried anything and everything to relieve her pain with little success.
“I no longer wanted to take painkillers, muscle relaxers, or steroids,” Greenberg said. “Whole-body cryotherapy was the one type of therapy that I had never tried.”
Greenberg found a location in Philadelphia where she could receive the treatment and committed to doing the therapy for a month, several times a week, “with amazing success,” she said. “I now do it every couple of weeks as maintenance, but I am essentially pain-free and have been since 2015 when I began.”
Because the therapy was so effective for her, Greenberg decided that she would like to share that experience with others by opening Lancaster Cryotherapy in Lancaster County.
“Opening my own business was definitely intimidating, but it was not the most difficult thing I have ever faced,” Greenberg said.
In 2015, her husband, with whom she had worked in the legal field for many years, passed away suddenly from a very aggressive form of cancer. She decided after his death that it was time to explore a different path in her life to help her move forward.
“A couple of months after he passed away was when I had discovered cryotherapy and made it a part of my life,” she said.
Today, Greenberg said that she has been somewhat surprised at how the community has embraced this alternative form of treatment.
“I had made the assumption … that people may be resistant to trying something as different as this,” she said.
Instead, the majority of her clients have been very excited to give it a try.
“The technology itself and the systemic process that your body goes through during the treatment is actually quite simple, so it makes complete sense how it can work so quickly,” Greenberg said.
According to her website, and testimonials from clients, cryotherapy treatment can help with pain relief by reducing inflammation and increasing mobility. It is also used by athletes to enhance performance and to expedite recovery from injury. Some people even experience a reduction in anxiety and depression after regular cryotherapy sessions.
So what exactly is whole-body cryotherapy?
It is a “three-minute treatment in a chamber chilled by liquid nitrogen,” said Greenberg.
Blood vessels constrict while the hyper-cooled air moves over the skin’s surface, and this forces the blood supply to the body’s core, circulating through the organs and ridding the body of “toxins and inflammatory properties that cause pain and inflammation.”
This technique was developed in 1978 by Japanese rheumatologist Dr. Toshima Yamaguchi as a way to help relieve inflammation that his own patients were experiencing. It has been widely used in Europe for decades and is now offered in the United States.
While cryotherapy is a relatively new treatment in this country, it can help with muscle pain and joint and muscle disorders, such as arthritis. Doctors have recommended icing injured and painful muscles for a long time. Once the ice is removed, blood circulation is increased, which encourages pain relief and healing.
Cryotherapy is also shown to reduce chronic inflammation in some patients, which can be linked to health problems such as cancer, diabetes, depression, dementia, and arthritis.
Although the intensely cold temperatures experienced in cryotherapy can be uncomfortable at first, the body quickly adapts, and each treatment becomes easier.
Greenberg has seen many clients who have experienced a reduction in debilitating pain and who are then able to return to regular exercise and lose weight in the process, which has been a great health benefit for them. Athletes as well have experienced success. BW