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Can cryotherapy freeze you to better health

Experts say therapy not for everyone

Cryotherapy.
Cryotherapy.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Cryotherapy has become quite popular with professional athletes wanting to recover from intense training, but others are seeing its benefits, too.  

[WEB EXTRA:  Cryotherapy growing in popularity]

"It's like pins and needles all over my body," said Sharon Standifird while inside a chamber at Chill Cryosauna in Orlando.

Standifird, 67, has taken the plunge into sub-zero temperatures many times.  She started when her arthritis pain got so bad that she couldn't walk.

"I finally got to the point where I couldn't function.  I absolutely could not function," she said.

After 15 years of arthritis pain, Standifird said she has now ditched her medication for cryotherapy.

She drives 90 minutes from Daytona Beach twice a week for her three-minute sessions.

Cryotherapy chambers convert liquid nitrogen to vapor, which swirls around your exposed skin at temperatures as low as minus 240 degrees Fahrenheit.

Chris Baldwin is a recreational athlete who said his knees were shot from years of sports injuries.

"Since I've come here, Ive been able to run every day for two weeks now, three miles a day," he said.

Lorrie Jago is the director of operations at Chill Cryosauna and said the cold temperatures can have healing qualities.

"The testimonials we hear back, they really make you feel like you're helping improve their life," she said. 

The chambers were originally created to help ease arthritis issues.

"The cryotherapy has limited studies on it, but in some of the studies, they have shown that it can reduce the inflammatory response," said Dr. David Pascoe, a professor of exercise science.  

He said while cryotherapy is generally safe for healthy people, there are some who need to keep clear of it.

"Those that already have a compromised or a diminished cardiovascular and thermoregulatory system, poor circulation to limbs, hands, feet, this would actually put them at greater risk," he said.

Cryotherapy chambers are not promoted as medical devices, so they aren't subject to Food and Drug Administration clearance or approval, so Pascoe advises people to do research before making an appointment.