A Closer Look At A Versatile Cryotherapy Solution For Pain

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By Robi Garthwait, Contributing Editor

   Doctors are turning to Biofreeze to manage the pain associated with a variety of ailments affecting the lower extremities. Available in a gel, roll-on or no-touch natural Cryospray™, the product provides a pain relief period that generally lasts 30 percent longer than conventional gels, according to its manufacturer, Performance Health, Inc.    Biofreeze works through cryotherapy. In essence, it decreases blood flow and confuses nerve endings. This in turn numbs the affected area and results in a decrease in inflammation. The formula contains Ilex, an herb extracted from a South American holly shrub, which aids in absorption, according to the company. Patients can apply Biofreeze up to four times a day.    William McCann, DPM, says Biofreeze is part of the standard treatment for such conditions as capsulitis, bursitis, neuromas, tendonitis, synovitis, bunion pain, gout and neuropathy in his Concord, N.H. office.     “We note excellent results with plantar fasciitis, tendonitis and capsulitis,” notes Dr. McCann, the President of the American Academy of Podiatric Practice Management (AAPPM). “We have very good results with bunion pain and postoperative usage. We also have good results with neuritis and neuropathy.”

How Do Patients Respond?

   Dr. McCann also notes that the product’s ease of use and good results facilitate high patient acceptance of Biofreeze.    Hal Ornstein, DPM, also uses Biofreeze to address the pain associated with a number of common conditions.    Dr. Ornstein, the Chairman of the AAPPM, finds the product particularly helpful as an adjunct treatment for the pain and symptoms associated with diabetic peripheral neuropathy.     “Many of our patients have indicated that this is the first thing that has helped to ‘cut the edge’ and, in many cases, has helped to improve their ability to sleep without frequently waking up from neuropathy-related pain,” notes Dr. Ornstein, who practices in Howell, N.J.    In fact, Dr. Ornstein, who gauges his results on “thousands of patients” who have used Biofreeze, indicates that the product significantly reduces pain and symptoms when patients use it on a regular basis.     “We have often heard from patients that when they missed an application of their Biofreeze, they experienced increased pain,” he asserts. “Our patients also like the idea of ‘rubbing’ something on the area that is symptomatic.”    Drs. McCann and Ornstein report few, if any, negative reactions when using Biofreeze.     “We have not seen any rashes or skin irritation caused by Biofreeze,” notes Dr. McCann. However, he does refrain from using Biofreeze on open wounds and abrasions because of associated burning discomfort and wound irritation that he has observed.     “I have only seen one mild skin reaction to Biofreeze,” says Dr. Ornstein.

How Does Biofreeze Compare To Other Pain Relievers?

   Dr. Ornstein has tried other topical analgesics in his practice but says “none have provided the same high degree of pain relief.” He also says his patients like the fact that Biofreeze “did not smell of ‘medicine’ like many other topical products.”     “We use other products to obtain relief of symptoms of neuritis and neuropathy of any etiology,” says Dr. McCann. “Specifically, we use capsaicin 0.075% three times daily in these situations. We find that it can be used in conjunction with Biofreeze where appropriate.” Although Dr. McCann says the products differ in their mechanism of action and usage, they “both have a place in treating challenging nerve pathologies.”    Dr. Ornstein frequently recommends Biofreeze to other practitioners and Dr. McCann echoes those sentiments.     “Once I am convinced of a product’s efficacy based on patient feedback, I am interested in sharing this information,” adds Dr. McCann. “As an experienced advocate of professional in-office dispensing, I am always looking for innovative products that can be added to our program. Biofreeze is clearly one of those products.” Ms. Garthwait is a freelance writer who lives in Downingtown, Pa.

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