Thermotherapy — sources, health benefits at NaturalPedia.com

Wednesday, December 20, 2017 by

Thermotherapy, as defined on Merriam-Webster online, is a treatment of disease by heat (as by hot air, hot baths, or diathermy).

Heat and cold therapy are often recommended to help relieve an aching pain that results from muscle or joint damage. Basic heat therapy, or thermotherapy, can involve the use of a hot water bottle, pads that can be heated in a microwave, or a warm bath. Heat treatment promotes blood flow and helps muscles relax. Use for chronic pain.

By increasing the temperature of the skin/soft tissue, the blood flow increases by vasodilation. The metabolic rate and the tissue extensibility will also increase. Heat increases oxygen uptake and accelerates tissue healing; it also increases the activity of destructive enzymes, such as collagenase, and increases the catabolic rate.

Heating of superficial tissues can be achieved using hot packs, wax baths, towels, sunlight, saunas, heat wraps, steam baths/rooms. We can also get the heat in the deeper tissues through electrotherapy (ultrasound, shockwave, and infrared radiation).

Applying heat to your tissues increases the blood circulation. Blood drawn into the target tissues delivers needed oxygen and nutrients and removes cell wastes. The warmth decreases muscle spasm, relaxes tense muscles, relieves pain, and increases range of motion.

There are two different types of heat therapy: dry heat and moist heat. Both types of heat therapy should aim for “warm” as the ideal temperature instead of “hot.”

  • Dry heat (or “conducted heat therapy”) includes sources like heating pads, dry heating packs, and even saunas. This heat is easy to apply.
  • Moist heat (or “convection heat”) includes sources like steamed towels, moist heating packs, or hot baths. Moist heat may be slightly more effective as well as require less application time for the same results.

Health benefits of thermotherapy

Medical studies indicate that heat therapy is an effective way to relieve pain and aches and to promote relaxation. Heat therapy is commonly used to relieve chronic pain. It is also commonly used to treat discomforts such as stiff neck, muscle tension and spasm, muscle strains, sprains, and more.

Body systems supported by thermotherapy

Heat may work by improving circulation and relaxing muscles, while cold may numb the pain, decrease swelling, constrict blood vessels, and block nerve impulses to the joint. Heat therapy can also provide both pain relief and healing benefits for many types of lower back pain.

Thermotherapy can be used in rehabilitation programs or at home. Generally, studies report that thermotherapy is safe when applied carefully.

Hot and cold therapy each have their own appropriate uses. You should never apply heat to a joint that is already hot, red, and irritated, for example. Remember, heat helps muscles relax; cold helps minimize inflammation and pain.

It’s also important to be careful when using hot and cold therapy to manage arthritis pain, or you might end up with damage to your skin from exposure to relatively extreme temperatures.

Where to learn more

Summary

Thermotherapy or heat therapy is a treatment of disease by heat (as by hot air, hot baths, or diathermy).

Thermotherapy is recommended to help relieve an aching pain that results from muscle or joint damage.

Thermotherapy is commonly used to relieve chronic pain and is used to treat discomforts such as stiff neck, muscle tension and spasm, muscle strains and sprains, and even lower back pain.

Sources include:

Merriam-Webster.com

MedicalNewsToday.com

NatureCreation.com

HealthLine.com

NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov

Spine-Health.com

EverydayHealth.com

 



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