Basics of Hot and Cold Therapy

Basics of Hot and Cold Therapy

By Ayush Henry

Hot Therapy

Basics of Hot and Cold Therapy

What is hot therapy for?

Application of hot therapy has direct effect on blood vessels. Blood vessels expand by heat which increases the amount of blood flow to the affected area. Joint pain, sore muscles, tendons and ligaments starts relaxing due to proper supply of nutrients and oxygenated blood. Hot therapy is also effective in reducing muscle spasm and increasing the range of motion. Hot therapy improves flexibility of ligaments and tendons.

How hot therapy is applied?

There are two kinds of hot therapy to choose from. First is the dry heat and second is moist heat. Applying dry heat can leave the skin dry and scaly while moist heat has the ability to penetrate better. Ensure that it is not too hot. Therapy should be warm and consistent till the entire session. There are different equipments that can be used to apply the right type and amount of heat. Equipments like Microwave Moist Heat Therapy Pad, Heating Pad, and Instant Hot Pack are easily available.

 When to use it?

Use it to cure stiff joints, joint pain and chronic muscle pain. In any of these conditions hot therapy can be a great relief.

Hot therapy tips:

  • While using heating pads take extra precautions when lying on it. There is a possibility that you may burn skin by falling asleep.
  • Apply heat for not more than 20 minutes unless suggested by health care professional.
  • Do not use hot therapy, if there are any open stitches or open wounds.
  • In case of swelling apply cold therapy first then hot therapy.
  • In case of diabetes or fluctuating blood pressure, avoid using hot therapy.

Cold therapy

Basics of Hot and Cold Therapy

What is cold therapy for?

As opposite to hot therapy, cold therapy reduces the blood flow towards the injury. This helps in reducing swelling and pain. By reducing the circulation, cold therapy also reduces inflammation, pain and muscle spasm. It is best to use when the area is bruised or swelled.

How to apply cold therapy?

Use gel or ice packs to apply cold therapy.

When to use cold therapy?

Cold therapy is great for strains, sprains, bruises and bumps that usually occur while lifting weight and playing sports. Apply cold therapy within 24 to 48 hrs after an injury. Apply wraps or cold packs to the injured area and ensure that at a time, never apply it for more than 20 minutes. Reapply it after 10 min.

Whether it is hot therapy or cold therapy, instead of applying directly to the skin, it is better to use a thin towel and wrap the device. In case there is confusion or if the injury is serious, it is best to call 911.