Heat and cold are an important part of reducing pain and treating soft tissue injuries. But although both options are effective, there is a lot of confusion surrounding this treatment method, with some people questioning the efficacy of heat in cold therapy. In this article, you will learn the role of heat in cold therapy.
What Is Cold Therapy?
Cold therapy is the use of cold temperatures to treat soft tissue injury. This form of treatment has been in use around the world for centuries, especially among sportspeople. When you expose an injury to extreme cold temperatures for a few minutes, you decrease circulation, metabolism, and inflammation. Cold therapy has also proved to be very effective in speeding up the healing process. But how does heat therapy work?
Unlike cold therapy, heat therapy helps to improve circulation and blood flow in the injured area. Raising temperatures in the affected area soothes discomfort and increases muscle flexibility. By increasing blood flow, the injured area receives enough oxygen and other essential nutrients to promote healing. Besides, heat therapy helps get rid of lactic acid that is likely to build up in the injured area due to overstretched muscles.
Types of Heat Therapy
Two main types of heat therapy are used to treat soft tissue injuries. These are dry heat and moist heat therapy. The dry heat, also known as conducted heat therapy, has various heat sources, including heat pads, heating packs, and saunas. Dry heat is effortless to apply. On the other hand, Moist heat includes various sources, such as steamed towels, hot baths, and moist heating packs.
Although dry heat is effective, moist heat has proved to be more effective, especially because it requires less time to apply and delivers excellent results. There are several other forms of professional heat therapy, including heat from the ultrasound device. This type of heat therapy helps to reduce pain in tendonitis.
There are many ways of applying heat therapy, including local, regional, and whole-body treatments. The local treatment option is suitable for minor injuries like a stiff muscle. But for widespread injuries, pain, or discomfort, you should use regional heat therapy. This can be achieved with a large heat pad, heat wraps, or steamed towels. Complete body treatment includes options such as hot baths and saunas.
If you are pregnant, diabetic, or have any other serious medical condition, check with your doctor before using certain forms of heat therapy like saunas and hot baths.