Heat Therapy Relieves Pain and Promotes Healing
Heat therapy is more than just adding warmth to an area for relaxation and comfort. It can provide healing benefits and pain relief for many types of aliments. This therapy can be administered by heating pads, heat wraps, hot baths and showers, and warm gel packs. All of these are inexpensive and easy to do.
Heat therapy helps relieve aches and pain by causing blood vessels to dilate which brings more blood to the heated area.
- This increases the amount of needed nutrients
- Increases the amount of oxygen
- Removes wastes from the area.
- Decreases muscle spasm
- Relaxes tense and tired muscles
- Relieves Pain
- Increases the range of motion
- Promotes healing
- Heat stimulates the sensory receptors in the skin, therefore applying heat will decrease transmissions of pain signals to the brain and partially relieve the discomfort.
To be effective the therapy needs to be warm enough to penetrate into the muscle, but not to hot as to burn the skin. Simply “warming” the skin is not enough.
For minor aches and pains about 20 minutes of heat should be sufficient, then let the area return to normal temperature for a while (30 minutes to an hour), before repeating, if necessary. For more serious injuries, heat area for 30 minutes to an hour.
Dry heat is, as the name implies, little or no moisture involved. Most electric heating pads are considered “dry’ heat. Another form of this type of heat is the Sauna. Both of these may leave the skin dehydrated and feeling dry. However, dry heat is effective and usually easier to apply and many times feels better.
Moist heat, which can be administered by hot baths and showers, steamed towels ,or moist heating packs can aid in the heat’s penetration into the muscles, and some people feel that moist heat provides better pain relief.
The difference between dry and moist heat appears to be more of personal preference. So, you may want to experiment with each type to see which helps your particular situation and which feels more soothing to you.
Heat Therapy VS. Cold Therapy