In recent years, cold therapy and the Wim Hof Method have become increasingly popular, also among people with autoimmune diseases and chronic pain. For example, more and more people with rheumatism benefit from the effects of cold and regain their quality of life. Radboud UMC made interesting discoveries about cold and how we can influence the autoimmune system with the Wim Hof Method. How can cold training help with rheumatism? Find out more in this article.

What is rheumatism?

Rheumatism is a collective name for hundreds of different painful disorders of the joints, muscles and tendons. They have one thing in common: the pain comes from inflammation. The inflammations are caused by a dysregulated immune system. Exactly how rheumatism develops is still unclear. Rheumatism is a diagnosis that you receive for the rest of your life: you cannot be cured of it. The treatments consist of symptom control such as pain relief and anti-inflammatories. Many rheumatic patients do not benefit enough from this and often suffer from unpleasant side effects. They are looking for a way to improve their health in other ways and to regain control over their life and health. With great success they find possibilities in alternative therapies such as cold training.

How can cold therapy help with rheumatism?

You often hear that taking an ice bath boosts your immune system. However, that gives the wrong impression of what cold therapy does. Instead of boosting the immune system, it actually makes the immune system less likely to go into an active state. People with an autoimmune disease such as rheumatism have an overactive immune system. Research shows that people who do cold therapy are less likely to get sick when exposed to a virus because they produce more adrenaline and thus suppress an immune response. In addition, taking ice baths lowers the pro-inflammatory proteins in the blood and exposure to cold increases the number of white blood cells. So you can temper the immune response, making the immune system less responsive to inflammation. More research is needed to confirm that taking ice baths is the way to treat rheumatism, but the success stories of rheumatoid arthritis patients, as well as those with multiple sclerosis (MS) and Crohn’s disease, are promising. As mentioned before, you cannot cure these autoimmune diseases, neither with regular treatments, nor with cold therapy. But because rheumatism patients can significantly reduce their medication intake or stop completely, they experience much more quality of life.

Start cold therapy at home

Do you have rheumatism and are you inspired to start with cold therapy? Always consult your doctor before changing your medication intake. You can easily build up cold therapy at home by starting with cold showers. Once you get used to it, you can start taking ice baths. With the CoolCube water coolers from Khione you can create an ice and ice-cold ice bath from every bath – without ice cubes! Look here for the different models.