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In this country a significant percentage of the population present to clinics with generalized musculoskeletal disorders related to pain. More than one-quarter of Americans (26%) age 20 years and over, or an estimated 76.5 million Americans report a problem with general musculoskeletal disorders related to pain that persisted for more than 24 hours in duration. The treatment for various musculoskeletal disorders related to pain are anti-inflammatory agents or opioid analgesics. Another form of anti-inflammatory /analgesia for such ailments is cold therapy.

The purpose of this literature review is to compare Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBCt) to Cold Water Immersion (CWI) in well-trained, adult athletes of both genders, between the ages of 18 to 60, to determine which treatment provides the better reduction of symptoms. The review of literature focused on WBCt and CWI studies to determine which cold therapy provides faster/better relief of symptoms from musculoskeletal disorders related to pain.

The results showed that average and minimum tissue temperatures were lower (p<0.05) immediately after whole body cryotherapy (19.0±0.9°C) compared to cold water immersion (20.5±0.6°C). However, from 10 to 60 min post, the average, minimum and maximum tissue temperatures were lower (p<0.05) following the cold water treatment. While WBCt achieves the lower initial tissue temperature, CWI will maintain the overall lower tissue temperature. Based on the results of this literature review, a practitioner can determine if WBCt is a viable application that the clinic/hospital should have readily available for an alternative treatment for various musculoskeletal disorders related to pain.


Physician Assistant Studies

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Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)

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Analgesia -- methods; Cryotherapy -- methods; Immersion; Musculoskeletal Pain -- therapy; Comparative Study


Anesthesia and Analgesia | Musculoskeletal Diseases

Whole Body Cryotherapy vs. Cold Water Immersion