To prevent the osteoporosis by applying physiotherapy is important for avoiding fractures. Cryotherapy is an established method of physiotherapy; and is usually followed by relaxing gymnastics. The aim of the study was to assess the possible influence of whole body cryotherapy followed by relaxing gymnastics on bone turnover and muscular function in elderly women. The study was carried out on 62 elderly women (mean age 69.2 ± 4.5 yr). None had a past history of osteoporotic fracture.
Osteoporosis was diagnosed in 14 of them, osteopenia in another 30, and normal BMD was shown in the remaining 18. The control group were 20 young healthy women. The subjects were exposed to whole body cryotherapy for 6 weeks, 5 times weekly (3 minutes session each time) in a cryochambre of a temperature between -110 and -150°C. Then, they performed relaxing gymnastics for 45 minutes. Serum osteocalcin (OC) and carboxyterminal cross-linked telopeptide of type I collagen (ICTP) were measured, and a functional assessment of back flexors and extensors by the isokinetic method was carried out at the beginning and at the end of the study.
We observed a statistically significant decrease of OC (p < 0.05) and an increase of ICTP (p < 0.05) in serum in the entire group of elderly women following the physiotherapy course. Bone turnover markers in the control group increased, but only statistically significant changes were in ICTP (p < 0.05). The functional muscle analysis revealed positive influence of physiotherapy for back flexors and extensors activity (p < 0.05).
In conclusion, cryotherapy followed by relaxing gymnastics influences the bone turnover in elderly women. On the other hand, this form of physiotherapy induced positive changes in muscle function, in terms of back flexors and extensors activity.