Understanding Cryotherapy and Other Pain-Relief Therapies


People who experience chronic pain are often looking for solutions, but there are so many therapies claiming to help that it can be overwhelming! From finding the right one to determining if its claims are legitimate, there’s a lot of information that goes into choosing the right therapy. We’re sharing our findings on three common orthopedic solutions to put relief within reach.

Is Dry Needling Effective at Reducing Pain?

In a process similar to acupuncture, a practitioner will place small needles into areas around the body to reduce pain. Trigger point dry needling involves placing a needle directly into a hard, knotted muscle, while non-trigger point needling occurs when a practitioner places several needles around a painful area. A review of studies on trigger point needling found that it reduces pain but not as much as other treatments. There is also no accreditation agency for people looking to become a practitioner, so it can be difficult to determine if a specific location is safe.

Can Kinesiology Tape Ease Muscle and Joint Aches?

Kinesiology tape, a type of stretchy, adhesive material that athletes often place on their bodies, claims to lift the skin slightly off of the tissue beneath. Physical therapists apply this to the body in specific patterns. It’s thought that this minuscule amount of extra space can allow blood and lymphatic fluid to flow, reducing swelling and bruising, as well as prevent joint irritation and decrease pressure on knotted muscles. One study found that a control group and a group that wore the tape both noticed pain relief for their knee-based osteoarthritis, but those with the properly-applied tape experienced significantly more pain relief than the control.

Does Cryotherapy Relieve Pain?

Some people looking to give pain the cold shoulder turn to cryotherapy, a technique that involves standing in a chamber that is less than -200 degrees Fahrenheit for 3-5 minutes. People claim it reduces inflammation, improves mood, and boosts weight loss. A review of several studies found that cryotherapy can help prevent stress fractures in bones, reduce inflammation, and improve muscular pain in many, but not all, participants. However, cryotherapy isn’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and it can be quite expensive.

Always talk to your St. Joseph and Texas A&M Health Network primary care physician before beginning any new treatments. These therapies shouldn’t replace treatment for any conditions but serve as complementary care instead. If pain is beginning to take over your life, schedule an appointment with a St. Joseph Health orthopedic physician for advice tailored to you.

Sources:
Healthline | What Is Kinesiology Tape?
Healthline | Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture: Which Is Right for You?
Medical News Today | Dry needling vs. acupuncture: What the research says
U.S. News & World Report | Should You Try Whole Body Cryotherapy?
NCBI | Whole-Body Cryotherapy in Athletes: From Therapy to Stimulation. An Updated Review of the Literature
PubMed | The Effectiveness of Trigger Point Dry Needling for Musculoskeletal Conditions by Physical Therapists: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
NCBI | The effectiveness of Kinesio Taping® for pain management in knee osteoarthritis: a randomized, double-blind, controlled clinical trial

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