Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system in which the immune system attacks the myelin sheath that surrounds your nerves and aids in the conduction of nerve signals. Damage to the myelin sheath disrupts the signal between your brain and the rest of your body and in time, the nerves themselves are damaged. Reactive oxygen species generated in excess lead to cell death and oxidative stress which has been implicated as a key mediator of the demyelinization..
MS is characterised by a large number of symptoms that change in incidence and intensity depending on the nerves affected. There are a number of forms of MS that vary in their course of progression.
There are no known cures for MS. A number of medications are available that target disease progression, delay relapses and alleviation of symptoms.
Cryotherapy has been shown to increase a general sense of wellbeing, and it was on this basis that health centres started to use WBCT as a therapy in MS. Since that time, a large number of other clinical benefits have been published.
Benefits of WBCT in MS
Generalised improvement in MS has been noted, and the overall therapeutic effects are attributed to the multi-component effect of WBCT: influencing the central nervous system, regulation of muscle activity, inhibition of inflammation, pain relief and the effects on the limbic system, with a positive effect on emotional wellbeing.
Studies have demonstrated the following effects:
- Reduced fatigue
- Pain reduction (predominantly secondary pain arising from spinal posture and consequent joint strain)
- Improved quality of life
- Decreased muscle spasticity
- Improved muscle activity on a functional EDSS score
- Reduced nystagmus
- Improved body stability when standing
- Increased physical fitness using an exercise tolerance test
- Decreased inflammation
Suggested treatment protocols in MS
Recommended treatment courses are 20 treatments of between 2-3 minutes at a time, done 2-3 times a year in association with physiotherapy or supervised exercise programmes.