Heat therapy has long been used as a remedy for muscle stiffness, aches and pains. Heat therapy simply refers to the application of either dry or moist heat to the affected area for a designated time period. Heating pads, hot water bottles, instant hot packs and even hot baths can be used to alleviate muscle or joint pain.
Over-exertion and strain are common causes of muscle pain and discomfort. Heat should never be applied to a new injury that exhibits swelling, but it can be effective as a remedy for chronic muscle or joint pain. If your pain is chronic, your doctor may recommend heat therapy for relief.
Even without experiencing muscle or joint pain, you may have noticed that a soak in a hot bath or spending time in a sauna seems to make your muscles feel relaxed. This is because heat dilates the blood vessels, allowing for better blood flow in the areas where the heat is applied. Similarly, heat can be applied to areas of mild to severe muscular pain to relax muscle tissue, promote blood flow and help alleviate pain.
One great aspect of heat therapy is that it can be applied easily and inexpensively from home. However, precautions should be taken to ensure that heat is appropriate for the type of pain you have and to prevent burns to the skin. As a general rule heat should not be applied for more than about a half hour, and not at all if you have certain health conditions, so be sure to check with your doctor for recommendations on the appropriate heat therapy for your situation.
Newer innovations in heat therapy include the VitalWrap® hot and cold therapy system, which provides hot, cold and compression therapy capabilities into one piece of equipment. The user of this system can control temperature settings to deliver hot or cold therapy to the affected part of the body.
Heat therapy should not be used for all types of pain, so consulting with a doctor to determine whether you should heat vs. ice and of your injuries or chronic pain.
Note: This information is not intended to supplement or replace advice from a medical professional, or to diagnose or treat any condition.
About MMAR Medical Group: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a leading orthotic device supplier specializing in diabetic footwear including socks and shoes for diabetics as well as a full line of orthotic insoles.