When to Use Heat & Cold Treatments

Category: chronic pain

Do you suffer from chronic pain in Glendale? Many patients rely on heat and cold therapy for relief from muscle or joint damage. When used together, these treatments help reduce inflammation, promote blood flow, and relax the muscles. Fortunately, they are also simple to complete at home and they help many find relief from aches, discomforts, and other symptoms. Here is an overview of each treatment, when each is appropriate, and tips on how to do them yourself at home.

Heat Therapy

Heat therapy involves applying heat to an affected area. You can use a hot water bottle, hot bath, or hot pads at home to promote blood flow, loosen tight and sore muscles, improve circulation, and promote the flow of oxygen. It is an effective way to treat chronically sore muscles or joints, especially when it comes to arthritic pain.

Keep time in mind when using heat therapy. Many benefit from heat applied to the affected area for 20 minutes up to three times a day. When relying on dry heat, such as from a heating pad, stick to no more than eight hours of treatment each day. If relying on moist heat (such as a warm, damp rag or a bath), stick to no more than two hours.

Keep in mind that heat isn’t always the best solution, depending on your injury. Never use heat therapy on fresh injuries, burns, infected areas, or spots on the body that are numb.

Cold Therapy

Cold therapy is a great way to reduce swelling and inflammation, since it reduces blood flow and numbs sore tissues.

Ice packs are the most common type of treatment used by those relying on cold therapy. Keep in mind that you should never apply ice directly to the skin and instead keep it wrapped in a dry cloth. Many people also use bags filled with frozen vegetables to sooth affected areas.

Cold therapy is effective for injuries, especially when used within the first 48 hours following trauma. Try applying a cold compress to the area for twenty minutes, leaving around four to six hours between treatments. You can also try soaking in a cold bath – just avoid adding ice or sitting in freezing water.