Heat Treatment Vs Cold Treatment - Explained

Treating pain with hot and cold treatment can be extremely effective for a number of different conditions and injuries - and best of all is that they are easily affordable.

The difficult bit is knowing when to use heat therapy, and when to use cold.

As a general rule, cold is used for acute injuries or pain, inflammation, and swelling, whilst heat is often used for muscle pain or stiffness.

What is heat therapy?

Heat therapy works by improving circulation and blood flow to a particular area due to increased temperature. Heat therapy can also relax and soothe muscles, whilst healing damaged tissue.

Variations of heat therapy

There are two different types of heat therapy: dry heat and moist heat.

Dry heat can include anything from heating pads to saunas. On the other hand, moist heat includes things like steamed towels and hot baths.

Both can work well and they are both simple to administer.

How to apply heat therapy

Heat therapy is often most beneficial when used for a prolonged period of time, unlike cold therapy, which needs to be limited.

Minor stiffness or tension can often be relieved with only 15 to 20 minutes of heat therapy.

Moderate to severe pain can benefit from longer sessions of heat therapy like a warm bath, lasting between 30 minutes and two hours.

How does cold therapy work?

Cold therapy works by reducing blood flow to a particular area. This can significantly reduce inflammation and swelling that causes pain, especially around a joint or a tendon.

Applying cold therapy

You should never apply a frozen item directly to the skin, as it can cause damage to the skin and tissues.

Apply cold treatment as soon as possible after an injury. Then, use cold therapy for short periods of time, several times a day.

How to use cold therapy

Knowing when to use cold therapy and when to use heat therapy will significantly increase the effectiveness of the treatments.

Some situations will require both. Arthritic patients, for example, may use heat for joint stiffness and cold for swelling and acute pain.

If either treatment makes the pain or discomfort worse, stop it immediately.

If the treatment hasn’t helped much with regular use after a few days, make an appointment to see your doctor to discuss other treatment options. We always recommend consulting your doctor before undertaking any new treatments.

If you are looking to buy hot or cold packs for local treatment then click here to check out our range of hot and cold therapy.