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HEAT and COLD Therapy

Questions

Thermotherapy / Cryotherapy

Thermotherapy involves the application of Heat or Cold (Cryotherapy) in order to change the Intra-articular, Core temperature and Cutaneous of soft tissue resulting in the improvement of certain conditions. 

Cryotherapy (cold) and Thermotherapy (Heat) are useful for the treatment of Musculoskeletal injuries and Soft Tissue injuries. Use of Ice Or Heat as a therapeutic intervention decreases pain in Joints, Muscles and Soft Tissues as they have a reverse effect on Tissue Metabolism, Blood Flow, Inflammation and  Edema. Thermotherapy can be used as a rehabilitation facility at home as well.

Cold Therapy reduces inflammation by decreasing blood flow due to contraction in Blood Vessels.

Hot Therapy promotes blood flow due to expansion in Blood Vessels and helps in muscle relaxation due to expansion.

Purpose/Aim

The aim of Thermotherapy is to alter the tissue temperature of the targeted area to induce a desired Biological response. Majority of them are designed to deliver the Thermal Therapy to a target tissue volume with minimum impact on surrounding tissues. 

HEAT THERAPY : The increase in the Temperature of the Skin/Soft Tissue leads to the increase in the blood flow by Vasodilatation. Heat basically increases the oxygen uptake thus increasing Tissue Healing. It also increases the Metabolic rate, Tissue extensibility, activity of destructive Enzymes and the Catabolic rate.

COLD THERAPY: By decreasing the temperature of Skin/Soft Tissue the blood flow decreases by Vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels). But it is afterwards followed by Vasodilatation which prevents it against Hypoxic (absence of enough oxygen) damage. Cold therapy basically decreases the amount of blood flow delivered to an area thus reducing Swelling. It further helps in reducing muscle spasm and decreases metabolic rate by limiting the oxygen flow to cells.

Alternating Heat and Cold Therapy may help reduce exercise-induced muscle pain.

Application and Uses

HEAT: Heating of tissues can be achieved using Hot Packs, Wax Baths, Towels, Sun lights, Saunas, Heat wraps, Steam Baths/Rooms. We can also get the heat in deeper tissues through Electrotherapy (Ultrasound).  Exercise in warm water is an effective treatment with pain relief effect for patients with Neurological and Musculoskeletal problems. The warmth enhances the blood flow and muscle relaxation and also relieves the pain be reducing peripheral edema.

Heat Treatment can be useful in cases of:

  • Osteoarhritis
  • Strains and Sprains
  • Tendonitis
  • Warming up stiff Muscles or Tissue before activity
  • Relieving pain or spasms relating to neck or back injury, including lower back

COLD : Cooling is achieved using Ice Packs, Ice Baths, Cooling Gel Packs, Cold Air and Sprays. Cold therapy reduces the swelling and increases range of motion.

Cold Treatment can be useful in cases of:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • A recent Injury
  • Gout
  • Strains
  • Tendinitis, or irritation in the Tendons

When to avoid HEAT and COLD THERAPY?

  1. HEAT Should NOT be used on a new injury , an open wound, or if the person is already overheated. The temperature should be comfortable, it should not burn
  2. ICE Should NOT be used if a person is already cold. Applying ice to tense or stiff muscles in the back or neck may make the pain worse.
  3. HEAT and COLD Therapy is NOT suitable for people with Diabetic Neuropathy or another condition that reduces sensations of hot or cold. It may be hard to know when heat or cold is excessive in these cases.
  4. HEAT should NOT be used if the skin is hot, red or inflamed and if the area is Numb.