Cryotherapy is one of the extensively prevalent measures used for providing relief to pain. Generally known as cold therapy, every household is aware of the treatment which effectively relieves redness, inflammation, pain from surgical and non-surgical procedures.

The procedure has been widely divided into:

  • application of ice packs
  • Ice baths

The low temperature enables tissue repair, and assists in the quicker recovery period of the affected individual. Over the years, this particular mode of therapy has been modified for extensive use, which has led to the implementation of the procedure in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Cryotherapy is sub-divided into two categories in order to distribute its uses and achieve a wider mode of application. These are:

  • Cryosurgery: Providing very low temperatures to diseased tissues in order to render them ineffective and eventually destroy them. Though the procedure is used for curing several diseases, it has found significant usage in treating various skin disorders.
  • Cryoablation: Cryoablation offers an advanced way of treatment by using cryoprobes. These are hollow tube-like needles which are inserted into the individual and positioned near to the affected tissue growth. Necessary fluid at extremely reduced temperatures is then poured through the tubes. The fluids are conductive in nature and draw the heat from the tissues. The tissues thus are unable to retain their metabolic activity at such reduced temperatures and are thoroughly destroyed.

1. What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is vastly used to treat various types of cancers. It offers a non-surgical method of killing and destroying rapidly multiplying cells, a process that is common for malignant cells. Chemotherapy may either help in destroying cells and tumor completely or may assist in reducing the size of the tumor henceforth preparing it for further procedures. Chemotherapy can either be individually used for treating certain types of cancers or can be used along with other procedures. The therapy uses particular drugs which are mostly disease-specific, and are capable of destroying cells and tumors completely. Such drugs can be provided to the individual in the form of pills and injections. However effective it may be, chemotherapy is accompanied by a wide range of side effects, which may include:

  • Hair loss
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness

This is because the administration of chemotherapeutic drugs results in the destruction of healthy cells surrounding the affected tissues. The healthy cells, however, regenerate over a period of time thereby allowing the individual to continue with a regular life post-treatment.

Although effective, the treatment is quite expensive. In general, chemotherapy costs may vary from $100 to $67,000 on a monthly basis. The cost depends on the type of drugs required for the individual, the number of procedures required as well as whether the therapy is used along with other procedures.

2. Why/When is Cryotherapy used?

Cryotherapy has been used as an age-old remedy for a number of causes. Not just for major surgical procedures or treating severe illness, cryotherapy can be used in several other conditions, which are:

  • To relieve pain: Ice therapy for numbing or reducing pain has proven helpful for decades and centuries. The therapy is henceforth the primary treatment offered to athletes as well as in households.
  • Coping up with migraine: Migraine is extremely common and affects almost 3/5th of the population. Cryotherapy or application of ice on the neck (where the carotid arteries are located) is considered helpful.
  • Skin disorders: Cryotherapy can be extremely helpful in curing various skin conditions including atopic dermatitis. Along with conventional treatments, this method provides better results.
  • Reduce inflammation, especially in the case of Arthritis: Cryotherapy is highly suggested to candidates diagnosed with gout, and different types of arthritis. This is because reduced temperatures help in calming the nerves and lessen inflammation visibly.
  • Curing tumors that pose low-risk: Tumors, both benign and malignant, which poses low-threat can be cured with cryotherapy which is otherwise known as cryoablation, as it involves a minimally invasive surgical procedure for locally focusing low temperatures to destroy the mass.

3. Can cryotherapy lessen or work as an alternative to chemotherapy

The modern advancements in medical science have enabled diverse usage of cryotherapy for curing cancerous conditions as well as pre-cancerous growths inside or outside the body.  However, the therapy is ideal for low-threat cancers in their initial stages. Cryotherapy is used to treat cervical tumors (benign or malignant), skin cancers, as well as prostate cancer with the help of cryoprobe through which liquid nitrogen or other suitable fluids are supplied for the destruction of the tumorous cells. The treatment is extremely cost-effective as cryotherapy cost varies approximately from $60 to nearly $100 for every procedure.

On the contrary, chemotherapy, with the help of specific drugs help in curing threatening cancers occurring even in major organs. However, one must understand, that both the therapies can prove to be ideally useful if provided along with other treatments.

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