For starters, neither my body-system nor my dry skin is particularly partial to heat or cold.
So I have to keep both as short as possible, definitely under 3 mins.
Heat is something most people know, have tried and use, so I’ll concentrate on the cold here, which is less commonly used. The Finns and Swedes culture using it, some old Asian traditions had/have it too. The cold showering a female friend suggested is part of three things propagated by the Dutch ‘freak’ Wim Hof: a specific breath-holding exercise, cold showering/baths and meditation stuff. Having had more successes with whole body cryotherapy than with any other therapy, I tried it and find it very beneficial. I’d’ve thought it is more for men, - and on youtube-vids it looks like that, but personally I now know quite a few women (5) who only shower cold (some may have undiagnosed fibro), and not one single other man… O.o
A. Whole body
1. Cold showering or ice baths vs. warm showers (or baths, mudbaths)
‘Our’ Lady Gaga uses ice baths! to get her fibro-pain down. Start cold showering with legs only, 8 seconds per leg (some say right one first, because it’s farther from the heart, but I start with the left one). Once you’re OK with that then the arms, then chest. Once you’re used to that you can add back and head/face too. (If you have difficulty starting, use heat first, as short as possible.) I usually have to keep it down to 40’’-60’’, otherwise my dry skin overreacts, but I know non-fibromites who do it for up to 10’’. But that’s enough to get pains, the Ache, feverishness and night thoughts down, to reset my body. A doc of mine says it works by numbing nerves, but also probably by transporting auto-immune/inflammatory substances away, so actually healing a part of the “cause”. I put a hot water bottle on my toes immediately after. It helps me sleep and dispels fibro-pains and -Ache for at least several hours.
(propogates it as generally healthy, and his contacts with cold have been sort of scientifically studied. He also has a very helpful guided breathing tutorial). He likes climbing in the Himalaya with shorts on. After having studied him I’m pleased to find he is not a guru-type and not doing it to make money out of it.)
2. After sauna, i.e. hot & cold baths alternating, or showers alternating
That’s OK too, esp. if I’m not up to pure cold for some reason or I shouldn’t not disturb the acupressure processes (probably acupuncture similarly). But it works nothing like the pure cold ones, unless I keep the warm bit down to much less than the cold bit.
3. Whole body cryotherapy (cold barrel, cold chamber, cold sauna) or heat chamber.
A female colleague of mine with fibro & cfs who doesn’t want to try cold, has bought an infrared-chamber for at home, which helps her. It’s a much deeper warmth than in the sauna.
WBC means going into a chamber or a ‘barrel’ (i.e. head out of the top) for 3 mins, the temperature should go down to at least -90°C, in my case -130°C at first was too cold, went back to -110°C, then up 120°C, 130°C whenever it had less effect, and then up to -150°C/-250°F.
The first minute is no problem, the second is fairly ‘stiff’, if you’re not used to it, in the third you start counting down to zero, so that’s OK too. Once you are out, everything is fine. You can always see the left time and have someone to let you out as soon as you want to. Some people get claustrophobic in the chamber.
If you are taught & treated right and the appliance is a good one, you can’t get frostbite. In any case you can react if something is hurting too much by rubbing it with your hands. I don’t go in with gloves any more, I just rub my fingertips. So only underwear and socks &/or felt slippers.
It gets my Ache and stiffness down and often gives me energy as if I had no fibro, for minutes, usually hours, sometimes (in the summer) for 1-1.5 days. In the winter I’ve gone down from 4x to 2x per week, and upped the acupressure from 1x to 2x per week after the cryo, because the combination works really well.
Parts of the body
4. Hand grain baths (canola, alternatively rice, spelt, wheat) cold or hot.
You put 2-2,5kg of grain in the fridge or warm it to max. 45-50°C in the oven or microwave. Put in a big container and move your hands around in them. For me 3’ was the max. possible!, but all others enjoyed one or the other or both.
5. Topical/localized cryotherapy: or heat.
Cold: Flexible tube with nitrogen-‘frozen’ air, about 3 body parts per 1 min. Workaround: Just arms, esp. wrists in/under as cold tap water as possible, best thighs too for Ache. Joints, trigger points.
Heat, often moist: moor/mudpacks/fango.
The topical cryotherapy in the clinic hardly did anything for me, re. for joint or skeletal pain, but arms and thighs helps quite a bit on the fly for the Ache.
6. Smaller Cold pads / ice packs or heat pads, hot water bottle, grain cushions (e.g. spelt, cherry, wheat), or gel pads for either, wherever necessary
For Joints and trigger points, sometimes Ache, hot or cold or alternately. I prefer heat here.
"Stimulating the whole inner heating system"
7. Somehow this belongs here too: Acupressure - my TCM/acupressurist has managed to restore my old heat-cold-balance by stimulating points called “bringing the inner cooking pot to boil”. Interestingly I’ve started getting so sweaty now, like I used to, that I now often have to pull up my sleeves 15cm, wearing gloves for my cold hands, to get the right heat dose, but got that into balance now, too. But I have to change my long-sleeved shirt every second day again, in the last year it was only once a week.
She’s still trying to find things for my cold feet, hasn’t worked yet, at the moment I’m trying patting my thighs from top to bottom. These are the sort of treatments my body often likes, but sometimes a new kind of treatment she tries out may backfire completely … sometimes the 3rd day is then brilliant, sometimes not…
https://forum.livingwithfibro.org/t/6-benefits-of-cryotherapy-for-body-and-soul/12759: Cold dipping - Finns & Swedes, 3 good links (incl. the second for combining WBC with localized C, cf. 3 & 5 above, last specifically ‘for fibro’), Cryo Clinic in Los Angeles.
https://forum.livingwithfibro.org/t/heat-and-cold-therapy/189: heated mattress pad, large ones, moist ones, disposable ones, blankets, bag of frozen peas, “ice hurts”.
https://forum.livingwithfibro.org/t/physical-therapy/108: a) 20 minutes of heat therapy followed by a light massage of icy-gel, then about 5-10 minutes of hand machine exercises.
Aqua Exercises/ Therapy Warmth when doing aqua gymnastics. - wouldn’t count this as heat tho…
3-fold European research evidence for (none against) whole body cryotherapy:
Italy 2013, Betoni et al.:
Spain, 2018, Rivera et. al:
= (PDF) The effect of cryotherapy on fibromyalgia: a randomised clinical trial carried out in a cryosauna cabin
= https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs00296-018-4176-0.pdf Spain, 2018, Rivera et al.
= Trial description here: Clinical Trial on Fibromyalgia: Whole body cryotherapy sessions - Clinical Trials Registry - ICH GCP without results
France, 2018, Vitenet et al.: