Health and Wellness

Accelerate Wound Healing with Cryo

Tom Polakow, RN, BSN

12 July 2016

Believe it or not, chronic wounds/ulcers are at the top of the list for 5 year mortality percentages as seen in the above image. RIGHT THERE NEXT TO CANCER! So why don’t we talk about this more?? Well, lets start now.

I have long been involved in the treatment of chronic wounds and ulcers as an RN and recently started brainstorming effective levels of treatment after discussing a particular case with a colleague of mine. There are some great methods of treating wounds, especially as suggested by the Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurse Society (WOCN), whom create policies that act as the gold standard in wound care. This got me thinking, from a physiological perspective, can cryo-stimulation be an effect treatment in speeding up the healing process?

And so, I began researching and studying anything and everything I could find up-to-date. In a study conducted in 2008 (cited below), it was found that “The cryogenic stimulation of the wound was shown to result in considerably improved perfusion of the microcirculatory bed, epithelization and remodeling of the scar. It allowed transformation of a chronic process into acute and thus led to considerably accelerated process of regeneration.“ With a temporary time-period of vasoconstriction through cryotherapy, once complete, it stimulates the body to re-perfuse the area with nutrient rich and oxygenated blood. Furthermore, according to the study, the perfusion was improved to the microcirculatory level.

In theory, it all makes total sense. I say in theory because I haven’t physically done a study myself. But think of it this way, with cryostimulation the volume of the blood is spread much faster. This is because there are ~300,000 thermoreceptors in the human body, so, when using cryotherapy stimulation, the body defends itself against the extreme cold sensations by constricting the blood vessels, blood rushes to the core to maintain the body temperature around the vital organs. Once the treatment is over, the thermoreceptors no longer sense this danger and the blood rushes back to the treatment area at a much higher rate. This newly replenished blood now has increased levels of oxygen and is able to transport the toxins away from the skin and reduce inflammation. Traditional ice pack cooling simply cannot cause cryostimulation due to the limits on how cold it can get.

Unfortunately, as with most cryotherapy related studies, this idea is very new and not yet studied to a large extent. As more information becomes available, I’ll continue to update my thoughts. In the meantime, come on in and lets see what we can do to help!



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