Without a doubt, Heat Therapy feels much nicer and more comforting than cold therapy. However, problems can arise if heat therapy is used too soon after an injury or trauma.
Heat Therapy should only be used after inflammation has subsided. It should not be used immediately after an acute injury, or when an area is inflamed and swollen, since that will only serve to aggravate the injured tissues.
Heat Therapy is typically used to relax and loosen soft-tissues, and to increase circulation (through vaso-dilation of the blood vessels) to the affected area. Once the inflammation has subsided, you can apply warm-packs to the affected area to restore flexibility, relieve muscle cramping, reduce arthritic symptoms, and most of all, to increase the rate of healing by increasing blood-flow to the area (bringing more nutrients, and taking away more waste products).
- Use only moderate heat to avoid burning or over-heating soft-tissues.
- Do not leave heat on for extended periods of time or while sleeping.
Heat Treatment with a Hot-Pack
- Apply a warm wet towel, or warm pack to the affected area.
- Keep the warmth there until you feel the muscles begin to relax and warm up, and your skin turns a little rosy!
- Stop after 15-20 minutes. Do not re-apply for at least 1-2 hours.
Attention: Always use caution with Heat Therapy. Use only moderate heat to avoid burning your soft tissues. Do not use Heat Therapy if you suffer from one or more of the following conditions: cancer, diabetes mellitus, tendency to hemorrhage, decreased sensations, peripheral vascular disease, acute inflammation, or skin lesions.
Try to avoid using Heat Therapy at night, or when you are in bed. You are more likely to fall asleep with the heating pad, which could be potentially dangerous (burns and overheating).