My experience with using Biofreeze as a physical therapist in my practice spans decades. It has been a very helpful tool in my practice. When I was first introduced to the product years ago, this green gooey gel quite lived up to its name: “Freeze”.
FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH PRODUCT
Being so excited about trying the product, I used my bare hands during manual therapy treatments to patients at my outpatient clinic years ago. After my third patient and using Biofreeze with my bare hands, I started dropping things. My therapists teased me, “butterfingers”. Indeed, it was hard to feel my hands as they felt frozen! So I knew this thing works indeed!
To make a long story short. I have been using Biofreeze since then. I have seen it work for patients with swollen joints from the inflammation due to arthritis conditions. As Biofreeze indicates on its labels, it is intended for arthritis, sore muscles, and joints.
Almost everyone who comes to the clinic suffers from one or all of those conditions. It is also great for managing edema, swelling, pain, as it has the ability to cool off the skin surface once applied on a warm, inflamed area. Considered a cryotherapy gel, its cooling effect is exceptional.
The reason why Biofreeze works is the Pain Gate Theory:
Pain happens when your receptors send a signal from your spine to your brain. Cold sensations, like menthol, stimulate receptors to block those signals to relieve pain.
Applying Biofreeze to the skin does relieve pain because of this mechanism of the pain gate. Swollen joints from arthritis are usually warm, stiff. I have seen and observed how Biofreeze decreases that temperature in a matter of seconds, usually in as little as 10 seconds. Incredible right?
BIOFREEZE FOR RECENT HIP AND KNEE SURGERIES
This is so true with our patients who just had knee surgeries, either an arthroscopic procedure or a knee replacement. These patients usually come in with significant stiffness, pain swelling, as not all of them are diligent with using cold packs at home for symptom control, as instructed.
Before I even start their therapy session, I apply Biofreeze and massage the swollen joint gently: just around the surgical site and even the whole limb if the swelling reaches the ankles. I do this around the dressing of course, not over it.
Applied in an up and down or gentle circular motion, this also allows the better lymphatic flow to the area, allowing trapped water within the skin to get redirected to circulate better along the leg.
I do use nitrile gloves as again, I don’t like my fingers freezing with use. We do see as many as 12 patients or more a day. That’s a lot of Biofreeze applications with bare hands that’s more than enough to freeze any finger. 😁
I find that compliance with therapy improves significantly when pain relief is addressed prior to doing therapeutic exercises during the therapy session. It may also be, that combined with a therapist’s magical hands, the pain relief achieved with Biofreeze is even magnified.👌💁
BIOFREEZE FOR HEADACHES AND NECK PAIN
In my experience, using Biofreeze for headaches also works. Applied to the back of the neck, the base of the skull (occipital region) with manual therapy techniques, it helps calm down headaches, muscle spasms, and neck stiffness.
Just a simple massage to the painful and sore areas, simple pressure on the base of the skull, sides of the head with the fingers, and moving the muscles of the neck and upper trapezius muscles can help eliminate muscle tightness and spasms.
I have used Biofreeze in many more conditions and ailments. I may discuss those at another time. Biofreeze has now many variations of product packaging. It is available in the original gel form, which can be original or colorless.
It is also available as a roll-on and a spray, to suit people’s preferences. They have come up lately with the professional-grade Biofreeze which I felt really seems to have longer-lasting effects.
Biofreeze is indeed a big name for medical and health professionals alike. It is a product that did have longevity due to its effectiveness and the ongoing research to come up with more products. Biofreeze is easily available from sellers and distributors. Amazon does carry Biofreeze products.
As for me, I just know it’s one of the many tools of the trade a physical therapist like me can have. I am all for making patient’s day-to-day life better!
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Hot and Cold Therapy: Beneficial or Needless Self-Torture?
It is a known fact that heat or cold is a very common home remedy for pain. Whether in a form of a heating pad, liniments, it is the go-to pain relief choice. Heat and cold are commonly used for treating injuries to specific areas of the body.
But what about heating and cooling your entire body? We hear a lot about athletes soaking in a tub of ice cubes after a big game. Gyms featuring saunas to attract clients who go crazy using them after workouts.
Are these helpful in any meaningful way? Or is it just a silly fad without any merit?
Biohackers have promoted these ideas over the last few years. Let’s see if there’s any substance to their advice.
Spending time in a sauna regularly has its benefits:
Good for Stress Relief. Sitting in a sauna can feel wonderful. It’s stress-relieving and cleansing, especially after you wash the sweat off.
Facilitates the Formation of Heat Shock Proteins. Excessive heat stimulates specific genes to create heat shock proteins.
● These are helpful in eliminating free radicals in the body. Heat shock proteins can also repair damaged proteins.
Spending time in a sauna can prolong your life. Research has shown that spending some time in a sauna at least four days a week may reduce the incidence of several causes of death. These include fatal cardiovascular disease, coronary disease, and sudden cardiac death.
Endurance and aerobic capacity increase. Red blood cell counts and blood plasma volume increase with regular sauna use.
Increased circulation. Heat causes your blood vessels to dilate and increases your heart rate. This can help injuries to heal faster and improve mobility in joints affected by arthritis.
Keep in mind that normal sauna temperatures are just fine. There’s no reason to crank up the heat in hopes of gaining greater benefits. No benefit is worth risking your life. Be reasonable.
A nice cold bath might not be that appealing but learn the advantages before making decisions!
A 10-minute ice bath can be beneficial, too:
Reduces inflammation. Exposure to cold reduces inflammation. This is why you might ice a sprained ankle. It turns out that if you cool the entire body, the anti-inflammatory effect affects the entire body.
● An ice bath can reduce pain more effectively than just icing a specific area of the body.
● Many diseases, including heart disease, are believed to be at least partially due to systemic inflammation in the body. Regular ice baths may reduce the likelihood of developing many diseases.
It can enhance the immune system. White blood cell counts increase after spending time in an ice bath. This has been shown to reduce the likelihood of getting sick.
May reduce depression. Some studies have shown that regular ice baths can enhance mood.
The term “ice bath” is a bit of a misnomer. The most commonly researched temperature is 50 degrees Fahrenheit, which feels colder than you might think. It’s possible that your tap water is that cold. The time spent in the cold water was 8-12 minutes.
Maybe you don’t have access to a sauna or a cold bath. Will a hot tub, hot shower, or cold shower work just as well?
There’s not a lot of research on the benefits of these other options. It seems reasonable to assume that these could be viable substitutes, but there are no guarantees. It’s not too hard to find a health club that has a sauna, and you can take a cold bath or shower at home.
There are definitely health benefits to safely exposing yourself to hot and cold temperatures.
You may have also heard about the use of contrast bath, which is the use of contrasting temperatures that can shock the body due to the alternating action of vasoconstriction and vasodilation.
When the body is subjected to cold and capillaries constrict, it is called vasoconstriction. This also happens when an ice pack is used over bruises or inflamed joints. When heat is used, blood vessels open up, called vasodilation, dilating blood vessels. This is consistent with the physiological of heat: expansion.
In using hot or cold therapy, it is just important to remember: HEAT expands, COLD constricts. For muscle spasms, cramps, heat proves to provide relief than cold for already tight muscles. For inflammation, on the other hand, cold works better as it decreased warmth in inflamed joints or body parts.
The stress that these situations create stimulates the body to make healthy adaptations.
However, as with all things, it’s important to be safe and reasonable! If you use hot and cold therapy safely, they can benefit your health.