The pathological processes of this autoimmune disease appear mainly in joints. The membrane that covers the joint capsule is inflamed and the structures of cartilage and bone are destroyed. New principles have been adopted for treating this disease (blocking the TNF-α), but the treatment still requires a complex procedure, since rheumatoid arthritis is basically a systemic disease that weakens the whole organism. Then, the medicine or surgical treatment, or eventually kynesiotherapy, physical therapy -use of heat or cold- or psychological support have to be linked to the personal coping strategies of the patients and be coordinated.
An excellent and extensive bibliography about this topic has been published by relevant self-help organizations.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic, chronic and progressive disease whose cure is yet to be found despite all the therapeutic advances. Therefore, this treatment aims to produce a decrease of intensity of the symptoms in order to stop or slow their progression.
Whole-body Cryotherapy must be understood in this context as an additive physiotherapy that can help achieve the objective of the treatment if it is used correctly. It has not been conceived to replace other tested treatments, but the experience and research have shown that it usually helps reduce the medicine intake.
Whole-body Cryotherapy should be used within the framework of a clinical treatment, inpatient, two sessions per day (or three when there is great activity) during 2-3 weeks. Medical evaluations about the progress of the treatment should take place every 2-3 days.
Nevertheless, in outpatient cases, 10-15 sessions of exposure to cold are usually sufficient even when there is a high degree of inflammatory activity. This causes a relief of the symptom picture in terms of pain reduction and movement restrictions.
Therapeutic activities related to movement (kynesiotherapy, physiotherapy…) will not be abandoned under any circumstances during the cryotherapy cycles. Exercise enhances the synovial fluid in joints and benefit the nutrient supply to joint cartilage, which fights muscular atrophy caused by inactivity that would ultimately produce secondary damages, for example to the skeleton.
In essence, a cryotherapy program is advantageous in two different levels:
Pain relief can be kept by increasing the length of time of the cycle regime. The improvement in joint mobility is a long-term result whose effects can be observed during a long period after therapy.
On balance, Whole-body Cryotherapy enhances the state of health, reduces pain and signs of inflammation, improves general mobility and allows reducing medicine intake.