There are various therapies that help relieve pain. Out of all, heat and cold therapy have been proven to show an immense relief. It can be used for different problems like internal injuries, joint pain and more. Such therapy can be done anywhere as both heat and cold sources can be found easily.
Heat therapy can reduce prolonged pain as it relaxes muscles in a particular area. It also improves blood circulation. Cold therapy acts as an anti-inflammatory by reducing the flow of blood. Both these therapies can be used separately or can be alternated for more relief, depending on the kind of injury.
Heat therapy can be done using hot water bottles, heat packs, having a hot water bath or by warming a cloth and wrapping it around the injured area. The reason why heat therapy is instantaneously effective is because it increases oxygen which speeds up the process of healing. This therapy can be used for:
- To Get Rid of Soreness: Since heat acts as a muscle relaxant, heat therapy gives relief to sores caused due to stress, tension or physical activity. Any kind of strain on the muscle can be reduced.
- Tendonitis: Regular heat therapy reduces tendonitis, which is a condition where tendons are stiffer than usual. It causes irritation and pain.
- Arthritis: One of the most common sources of pain, arthritis specifically leads to joint pains. Heat therapy rids the pain in the local areas which allow flexible movement of the joints.
- Relaxes Stiffness: Almost everyone has stiffness in their body because of the never-ending workload and physical activities done in a day. A hot water bath not only removes stiffness but refreshes your body and mind and keeps you prepared for the tasks ahead.
Types of Heat Therapy:
- Steam Bath
- Hot Tub
- Hot Water Bottle
- Hot Wraps
- Heated Gel Packs
- Electric Heating Pads
- Heated Paraffin Wax Treatment
Things to Remember While Using Heat Therapy
Although heat therapy is safe to use, there are a few things to be kept in mind while using it. Some precautions are-
- If the affected area is red or swollen, avoid heat therapy
- Do not use it on open wounds
- Avoid if you are sensitive to heat or warmth
This therapy can be done using ice packs or cold water. It slows down the damage of tissues, reducing pain. Coldness numbs the area to a certain extent. It gives instant relief as the receptors do not transmit the message of pain to the brain. When suffering an injury, it is best to apply for coolness as soon as possible. It can be used in the following problems:
- Gout: A kind of arthritis that causes swelling, pain, and stiffness
- Strains: Muscle strains caused due to stress or activity
Types of Heat Therapy:
- Ice packs or frozen gel packs
- Coolant sprays
- Ice massage
- Ice baths
- Fluids, like ethyl chloride, that cool by evaporation
- Cooling Pads
- Cold compression wraps
Things to Remember While Using Cold Therapy
Application of cold therapy in the wrong method could aggravate the pain levels. Here are some tips to keep in mind before using this therapy:
- In case you are using ice as a form of therapy, do not apply it directly on the area. Wrap it in cloth or other material.
- Do not use it when a person is already feeling chilly or cold
- When a person is sensitive to cold objects
- Never use cold therapy for cramps as coolness increases the stiffness in the muscles
- If a person has a previous condition of nervous problems relating to blood flow, it is better to consult a doctor before using cold therapy. Any vascular problems or sympathetic dysfunction should also be checked by the doctor first.
Use of Both Heat and Cold Therapy Alternately
Alternating heat and cold therapy is a good method to increase the longevity of pain relief. Coldness constricts the vessels, but they expand as soon as it stops. Using heat therapy right after will nullify the effect, making sure that there is no increase in pain while simultaneously providing relief. Since both therapies have their own functions, using both will result in a lot of advantages.
When used under proper guidance and at regular intervals, they prove to be more beneficial than medication. It is easy to give yourself such therapies, and it is not costly, unlike many other treatments. Heat and cold therapy are great at reducing pain which is chronic and cannot find solutions otherwise. People are turning to this simple yet powerful method for easing discomfort caused by pain.