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What is Hot Therapy and How Does it Work?
The core function of hot or heat therapy is to increase the level of circulation of blood around a specific area - in this case it is where there is pain. The heat from the therapy does exactly this and enables a higher rate of blood circulation to the applied area. This can then decrease the amount of pain and act as a calming treatment meaning there is relief of pain and at the same time healing can take place to rectify the underlying muscular issue.
Heat pads and patches are regarded as ‘dry heat’ as the contact to the skin is dry, as opposed to other forms of heat therapy such as taking a warm bath that are regarded as a wet or moist heat.
What Can Hot Therapy Treat?
There are a number of conditions, aches and pains that heat therapy and treatment is said to help. The most common is muscular aches and pains as well as general aches and pain in joints, however if an area is raised, swollen, bruised or has an open wound, the advice is to use cold therapy instead.
The treatment of heat therapy is usually localised to one specific area on the body unless using heat therapy in the form of a sauna (a dry heat) which could aid the recovery of multiple areas.
Other cases where hot therapy should not be used include but are not limited to; eczema, dermatitis, diabetes, and MS as well as use during pregnancy where you should seek medical advice from your GP before using heat therapy.
How to Use Heat Therapy
Quite simply, depending on the method, the heat should be applied for a decent amount of time and up to a couple of hours can often be regarded as normal.
Some areas can benefit and gain relief from shorter stints of application of around 15 minutes however anything that is regarded as a more severe pain, the longer period is advised.