Cryotherapy – Use of a low-temperature physical agent to enhance healing (i.e. cold pack, ice cup)
Electrotherapy – Use of an electrical physical agent to enhance healing (i.e. e-stim machine, TENS)
The Gate Control Theory of Pain – A widely accepted theory that your body can only send so many signals to the brain at one time.
After our patients elevate the temperature of their tissues, perform the right therapeutic exercises, and receive their skilled manual therapy, there is one thing left to do. When strengthening and lengthening the structures necessary to remedy an injury, new inflammation can occur. This new inflammation can help facilitate the healing process as long as it is kept under control. To do this, we finish a treatment session with a cryotherapy/electrotherapy combination. There are a fair number of physiological mechanisms occurring here, but we’ve gotten good at explaining them.
Goodbye Inflammation, Hello Nutrients
At first glance, it might seem that cryotherapy and electrotherapy are contradictory in their effects. Cryotherapy cools down the tissue which decreases its metabolism. Electrotherapy stimulates the same tissue to send signals to the brain. So why would we want to slow tissue down, and make it work more at the same time? The idea is that cryotherapy is going to stop any more inflammation from occurring, while the cryotherapy/electrotherapy combo removes residual inflammation while directing nutrient-rich blood into the area.
The Love/Hate Pain Relationship
Pain is an amazing thing. It keeps us safe and teaches us all kinds of important lessons in life. After an injury, our bodies produce the sensation of pain to keep us from damaging that area further. However, there are occasions that our bodies get confused and hurt way more than is necessary in order to protect the injury. Left unchecked, this is where a vicious cycle can begin. Your body tries to protect itself by feeling pain, but too much pain means too little movement. Your body rebuilds itself based on how you move, so lack of movement leads to inefficient healing. Inefficient healing leads to even more pain. Summarized, pain leads to lack of good movement, leading to more pain. The key to eliminating this pain is through therapeutic movement.
Cryotherapy and electrotherapy indirectly help with pain by reducing inflammation and directly helps with pain through the Gate Control Theory of Pain. This is the idea that if the body is feeling the coldness of cryotherapy and the tingling of electrotherapy then it wont feel as much pain. With this in mind, we believe the cryotherapy/electrotherapy combo to be an essential tool reducing pain and promoting PERMANENT Healing.
The key to eliminating pain is through therapeutic movement. The cryotherapy/electrotherapy combo expedites the healing process, allowing us to create more movement at a faster rate!