What everybody should know about whole-body cryotherapy/cryostimulation: an up-dated mini review

Benoit DUGUE1, Wafa DOUZI1, Pierre CARETTE1, Olivier DUPUY1.

1University of Poitiers, Poitiers, France

Cold therapy has long been used to relieve pain and inflammatory symptoms. Nowadays, whole-body cryotherapy - an extreme cold therapy- which lasts 1-3 min, and given in a cold room in which the air temperature maybe -110°C or less is also used.

Important series of data have been collected in the context of injury prevention, recovery after injuries or surgery, and after physical exercise in athletes and patients. Cryotherapy/cryostimulation is also used as a complementary treatment in different kinds of chronic disease patients, in patients having pain and/or inflammatory problems, and in subjects with mobility difficulties. However, there are nowadays several reports expressing the absence of benefits with the use of cryotherapy/cryostimulation and safety problems.

The purpose of this work is to summarize what is really known on the effects of whole body cryotherapy/cryostimulation, to present the main physiological mechanisms involved and to suggest possible developments.