Local electrophysiologist explains real-life health benefits of cryotherapy

Local Health Alert

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – “The science behind it is that we expose your body to ultra-low temperatures using nitrogen,” said Alejandro Velasquez.

He provides cryotherapy treatments at his facility in East Memphis. He says it was designed by the Japanese in the 1970s to alleviate rheumatoid arthritis by exposing the body to negative 200 plus degrees Fahrenheit for small increments of time.

Ever since, healthcare professionals and specialists have found new uses for the treatment to improve the body’s performance and, for many athletes, recovery time.

Velasquez said, “Not only is it for athletes, or people training, but it is also for people who have arthritis or chronic back pain.”

He says other benefits include anxiety and depression relief, increased blood flow, pain reduction, and increased metabolic rate. 

In fact, in one session, you can burn between 500 and 800 calories in just three minutes.

After learning about the benefits, Local 24 News anchor Kelsie Cairns tried a session to see if the alternative therapy really works. 

She said, “I was only in the chamber for three minutes, but it felt so much longer! When my session was over, I felt this sudden burst of energy and warmth in my core.”

But, Cryotherapy does more than just make you feel good. There are very real uses for it in the medical world. 

Dr. Eric Johnson said, “We use cryotherapy for atrial fibrillation.”

He’s an electrophysiologist with Stern Cardiovascular in Germantown. He uses cryo to treat atrial fibrillation, or “a-fib.” That’s when someone has an irregular heartbeat. The irregular beat puts a person at a higher risk for stroke or heart failure.

He uses a cryo- balloon catheter to freeze the “bad stuff” out of pulmonary veins.

“We ablate or destroy that tissue around the veins so the electrical signal can’t get out and cause that atrial fibrillation,” he said. 

Dr. Johnson says before cryotherapy, older methods to treat a-fib required radio frequency technology that would burn the tissue. 

He said, “It’s definitely a more efficient procedure. This actually takes less time and has less X-ray exposure versus using radio frequency energy.”

Back at Velasquez’s cryotherapy facility, Sydney Wells uses cryotherapy to recover from CrossFit.

She said, “It releases pain almost immediately and I feel so much better the next day.”

Velasquez says women also come in for treatments to alleviate post-pregnancy pain. 

But before you hop in the tank, consider this: The US FDA says there is no real evidence that the whole body treatments actually prevent pain or treat serious illness, and treatments can put you at risk for asphyxiation from nitrogen exposure, oxygen deficiency and, the obvious, frostbite.

If you’re still looking to seriously cool off, a session will cost you $50.

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