Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
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Cryotherapy and cold water immersion: a deep dive

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-08-22, 10:43 authored by Matthew Macciacchera

Cryotherapy is commonly used to reduce inflammation and recovery times, especially following high-intensity exercise. Studies have shown that improvements in muscle recovery may be observed in as little as one cryotherapy session. From orthopaedics to oncology, cryotherapy is now being considered for a growing number of conditions in a variety of medical specialties. However, the scientific community remains uncertain about how it actually works. Cold water immersion and other cryotherapy methods have been linked to several pathways, including immune, endocrine, vascular and nervous system changes. With such a vast range of effects, the exact method of action is difficult to ascertain. As the pool of research continues to grow, so too does the number of reported treatment applications. Even cold showers can provide benefits in disorders of physical or mental health. Understanding the molecular processes involved is paramount for maximising therapeutic efficacy and allowing healthcare professionals to recommend cryotherapy with confidence. With these implications in mind, this review explores the literature to date and aims to answer the question: what does cryotherapy really do? 



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Published Citation

Macciacchera M. Cryotherapy and cold water immersion: a deep dive. RCSIsmj. 2022;15(1):62-66

Publication Date



  • Undergraduate Research


RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences


  • Published Version (Version of Record)