Hot and Cold Therapy
Hot and Cold Therapy are great non-invasive methods for treating muscle and joint pain.
What are the benefits of Hot and Cold Therapy
According to The Merck Manual, techniques such as
heat therapy and cold therapy are effective in the treatment of your
pain and inflammation. Practitioners use thermal therapies to promote
improved range of motion in your injured joints and body segments, which
allows you to participate sooner and more fully in rehabilitative
activities following your injury. Chiropractors, physical therapists and
other practitioners use heat or cold therapy based on when your injury
occurred and the degree to which you have already healed.Heat Therapy Benefits
SportsInjuryClinic.net touts heat therapy as an effective approach to
treating your sports-related musculoskeletal injury. Heat therapy is
divided into two principal categories based on the heat's ability to
penetrate your skin and affect your underlying tissues: superficial and
deep. Examples of superficial heat therapies include infrared heat, hot
packs, paraffin wax baths and hydrotherapy. Examples of deep heat
therapies include shortwave and microwave diathermy and ultrasound.
Applying heat to your tissues increases your circulation or blood flow
and causes your connective tissue to become more flexible. It also
promotes a transient reduction in your joint stiffness, pain and muscle
spasms. Using heat therapies can help you reduce inflammation and
congestion in your tissues. Heat therapy is used to treat many health
complaints, including arthritis, muscle spasms, muscle sprains and
strains, and even cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
Cold Therapy Benefits
Cold therapy or "cryotherapy" is used by trainers and health care
professionals to treat acute injuries of your musculoskeletal system.
Use of cryotherapy—which includes ice packs and ice massage, according
to JointHealing.com—is intended to reduce your metabolic rate,
inflammation, circulation, muscle spasms and pain. Cold therapy cools
your skin's surface and underlying tissues, which results in the
narrowing of your blood vessels—a process called vasoconstriction.
Vasoconstriction of your blood vessels causes a reduction in the blood
volume to the site of your injury, resulting in reduced swelling.
Cold-induced vasoconstriction also decreases the likelihood that your
cells will die due to lack of oxygen, as cryotherapy reduces your cells'
metabolic rate and oxygen requirements. It's still not entirely clear
how cryotherapy helps lesson your pain, but the cold stimulus may
override your pain sensation, according to SportsInjuryClinic.net.Contrast Therapy Benefits
According to the Institute for Integrative Healthcare Studies, the use
of contrasting temperatures—also known as contrast therapy—has been used
as a healing tool for thousands of years. When applied in successive
fashion, heat and cold are believed to exert a physiological effect on
your body's pain gate mechanism, which temporarily alters pain signals
traveling to and from your brain. This temporary reduction in pain is a
welcome relief for those suffering long-standing complaints of the
nervous and musculoskeletal systems. You can apply contrast therapy
locally on your skin, using hot and cold packs, or systemically, using
contrast baths or steam rooms and cold pools, known as hydrotherapy,
which uses water of contrasting temperatures to treat small or large
areas of your body. If you're considering incorporating thermal
therapies into your treatment routine, you should talk with your primary
care provider to discuss the risks, benefits and treatment options
available.Article from LiveStrong.com by Martin Hughes