Cryotherapy is the local or general use of low temperatures in medical therapy. Cryotherapy is used to treat a variety of benign and malignant tissue damage, medically called lesions. The term “cryotherapy” comes from the Greek cryo (κρύο) meaning cold, and therapy (θεραπεία) meaning cure. Cryotherapy has been used as early as the seventeenth century.
Its goal is to decrease cell growth and reproduction (cellular metabolism), increase cellular survival, decrease inflammation, decrease pain and spasm, promote the constriction of blood vessels (vasoconstriction), and when using extreme temperatures, to destroy cells by crystallizing the cytosol, which is the liquid found inside cells, also known as intracellular fluid (ICF). The most prominent use of the term refers to the surgical treatment, specifically known as cryosurgery. Other therapies that use the term are cryogenic chamber therapy and ice pack therapy.