What is Localized Cryotherapy
Updated: Jan 31, 2020
How does it work and what are the benefits?
Although we’ve explored the basics of cryotherapy previously, today we are narrowing our focus into an area called localized cryotherapy -- which is using targeted cryotherapy on a particular part of the body rather than standing in the full body chamber for cryotherapy. Cold temperatures of between -240°F to -256°F are used in localized cryotherapy, and it allows practitioners to have precise control over the area targeted and temperatures reached.
This type of cryotherapy can last from two to ten minutes, depending upon the purpose and location, and is ideal for people who:
Are uncomfortable standing in the full body chamber
Wish to treat a specific area of the body, possibly due to an injury, pain, or inflammation
Want to work on areas of cellulite
Are recovering from surgery
Some practitioners recommend, when possible, that patients use the full body chamber followed by a localized cryotherapy session with a short rewarming period in between for optimal results.
Benefits of localized cryotherapy
With localized cryotherapy, the therapeutic cold can be effectively directed into damaged tissues more deeply to stimulate healing in that part of the body. Localized treatment often occurs with beauty or anti-aging regimens, fitness recovery, skin ailments (like eczema, shingles, psoriasis, rosacea, scars, etc.), neck, wrist, ankle, elbow, hamstring, or low back pain, as well as the heel in case of plantar fasciitis.
Practitioners are able to ensure the patient’s comfort by speaking to them and directly monitoring the skin affected for changes in color and temperature during the localized treatment. Those who’ve received or given localized cryotherapy confirm such benefits as:
increased blood circulation
alleviation of painimproved range of motion prompt flushing of fluid and waste from the tissues targeted
overall hastened recovery
Other practitioners, especially those in the area of athletic training or physical therapy, explain their preference for localized cryotherapy as being due to its:
Minimal risk to the skin or other tissues since practitioners closely control the procedure
Efficacy and accelerated healing for post-surgery and treatment of injury as compared to whole body cryotherapy -- especially when active compression is applied
Being less expensive than whole body cryotherapy
Devices are easily portable and take up less space than a whole body chamber
Being easier to administer
What is the history of localized cryotherapy?
Historically, cold treatments have been used since the time of the Egyptians in 2500 BCE (Bouganim & Freiman, 2005). Even the renowned Greek physician Hippocrates was known to be familiar with the applications and therapeutic benefits of cold therapy. (Dawber & Cooper, 2001). Since then, localized cryotherapy can trace its origins to the mid-1800s when doctors began targeting cold treatments for skin, breast, and cervical cancers using cold packs of ice and salt solutions. More recently came the dermatological and other such elements of cryosurgery, i.e.“freezing off warts” and certain types of cancerous cells starting in the 1960s and 1970s. Eventually, different methods of cryotherapy developed into the various forms we have today.
How does localized cryotherapy work?
One practitioner describes the process as a “pressurized stream of nitrogen vapor being directed onto the affected body part, creating a powerful icing response.” Then the area’s blood vessels constrict and quickly flush fluid and waste from the tissue. This results in decreased inflammation and swelling. When the area begins to warm up again, it’s said to be “flooded with regenerative blood flow” which allows a greater range of motion. Some practitioners recommend a combination of localized and whole body cryotherapy, as referenced above, in order to work on healing from “the outside-in” or the “inside-out”.
Are there any studies on localized cryotherapy? What do they say?
A study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine in 2007 discussed localized cryotherapy as preferable to whole body cryotherapy in some cases due to its ability to be applied to the affected area for longer periods of time. Since it allows deeper penetration which causes more effective cooling, it results in more efficient “reducing of inflammation, post-traumatic microvascular dysfunction, and structural impairment secondary to closed soft tissue injury. These effects were due to the effect of cryotherapy in restoring functional capillary density, repairing tissue damage, decreasing intramuscular pressure, and more (Schaser, Disch, Stover, Lauffer, Bail, & Mittlmeier, 2007).
Another study from 2016 confirms the importance of localized cryotherapy as a component in first aid given in the case of musculoskeletal injuries. The acronym RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation, which is supported in the research revealing the benefits of cryotherapy in treating soft tissue injury. Both acute and rehabilitative phases were studied, and localized cryotherapy was proven to decrease inflammation, induce local analgesia, and reduce metabolism (Galiuto, 2016).
A 2015 study confirmed localized cryotherapy’s benefits in fat reduction and body contouring, revealing that cryolipolysis (more commonly called ‘Cool Sculpting’), similar to localized cryotherapy, and a safe alternative to liposuction, can lead to “an average fat reduction ranging from 14.67 percent to 28.5 percent, as measured by calipers or 10.3 percent to 25.5 percent, as measured by ultrasound” (Ingargiola, Motakef, Chung, Vasconez, & Sasaki, 2015).
We’ve seen the uses and benefits of localized cryotherapy as compared to whole body cryotherapy today. Perhaps you’re deciding if this type of treatment might be helpful for you? Let us help you determine whether you’d be eligible for localized cryotherapy by calling or visiting us anytime we’re open! Our friendly, informed staff can answer any questions you may have and set you up with your first appointment. Hours are below, and you can also email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cryo Body Works
3501 Hyridge Dr
Austin, TX 78759
Mon - Fri 7AM - 8PM
Sat 10AM - 5PM
Sun 12PM - 4PM
See you soon!
Bouganim & Freiman. (2005). History of cryotherapy. Retrieved from: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/cryotherapy-the-risks-benefits-and-facts
Dawber & Cooper. (2001). The history of cryosurgery. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. Retrieved from:
Galiuto. (2016). The Use of Cryotherapy in Acute Sports Injuries. Annals of Sports Medicine and Research. Retrieved from:
Ingargiola, Motakef, Chung, Vasconez & Sasaki. (2015). Cryolipolysis for Fat Reduction and Body Contouring: Safety and Efficacy of Current Treatment Paradigms. Retrieved from:
Schaser, Disch, Stover, Lauffer, Bail & Mittlmeier. (2007). Prolonged superficial local cryotherapy attenuates microcirculatory impairment, regional inflammation, and muscle necrosis after closed soft tissue injury in rats. Retrieved from: https://www.degreewellness.com/2018/12/benefits-of-localized-cryotherapy/