Heat and Cold Therapy

Treating Pain with Heat and Cold Therapy


Temperature therapy is low cost, simple, comforting, and can be performed anywhere, making it an excellent complementary treatment to other medicines or alternative therapies

Treating Inflammation with hot heating pads and cold ice packs can be extremely effective for a different conditions and injuries. knowing when for hot, and which calls for cold. Sometimes treatment will even include both. 

Generally, cold therapy should be used for acute injuries along with swelling and inflammation.

Use heat for muscle pain or stiffness. Ask your doctor or pain specialist to determine what treatment regimen is best for you.

heat therapy

5 Types of Heated therapy

  • Dry heat (or “conducted heat therapy”)contains heating pads, dry heating packs, and even saunas. 
  • Moist heat (or “convection heat”)  steamed towels, moist heating packs, or hot baths.
  • Heat from an ultrasound, for example, can be used to help pain in tendonitis.
  • Electric heating pad it will keep a steady level of heat during use.
  • Heated paraffin wax treatment
  • 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 warm bath, lasting between 30 minutes and two hours.
  • If you experience increased swelling, stop the treatment immediately.

Heat therapy


  • Promote circulation and blood flow to a particular area due to increased temperature.
  • Increasing the temperature of the afflicted area even slightly can soothe discomfort and increase muscle flexibility.
  • Heat therapy can relax and soothe muscles and heal damaged tissue.

Don’t apply Heat thearpy if 

  • If the area in question is either bruised or swollen (or both), it may be better to use cold therapy.
  • Heat therapy also shouldn’t be applied to an area with an open wound.
  • People with certain pre-existing conditions as:
        • diabetes
        • dermatitis
        • vascular diseases
        • deep vein thrombosis
        • multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • If you have either heart disease or hypertension, ask your doctor before using heat therapy.
  • If you are pregnant, check with your doctor before using saunas or hot tubs.

If heat therapy hasn’t helped lessen any pain or discomfort after a week, or the pain increases within a few days, make an appointment to see your doctor.

cold therapy

Types of cold thearpy 

There are a number of different ways to apply cold therapy to an affected area. Treatment options include:

Other types of cold therapy that are sometimes used include:

  • cryostretching, which uses cold to reduce muscle spasms during stretching
  • cryokinetics, which combines cold treatment and active exercise and can useful for ligament sprains.

Stop Using Cold therapy if 

  • If You have sensory disorders, you may not be able to feel if damage is being done. This includes diabetes, which can result in nerve damage and lessened sensitivity.
  • If you have stiff muscles or joints.
  • If you have poor circulation.

Cold therapy

How it function

Minimizes blood flow to a particular area, that will decrease inflammation and swelling, especially around a joint or a tendon. It can temporarily reduce nerve activity, which can also relieve pain.

Applying cold therapy

  • Don’t 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.
  • Use cold therapy for short periods of time, several times a day. Ten to 15 minutes is fine, and no more than 20 minutes of cold therapy should be used at a time to prevent nerve, tissue, and skin damage.
  • You can elevate the affected area for best results.


Potential risks of cold therapy

  • Cold therapy applied for too long or too directly can result in skin, tissue, or nerve damage.
  • If you have cardiovascular or heart disease, consult your doctor before using cold therapy.
  • If cold therapy hasn’t helped an injury or swelling within 48 hours, call your doctor.
  • When to use cold therapy and when to use heat therapy will significantly increase the effectiveness of the treatment. 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 in a few days, you can make an appointment to see your doctor to discuss other treatment options.
  • It’s also important to call your doctor if you develop any bruising or skin changes over the course of treatment.
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