Heat therapy is a procedure that uses temperature in order to help alleviate pain and promote a cure to many common aches and pains. It can come in a variety of different methods, including using dry heat therapy, moist heat therapy, and infrared heat therapy. This type of therapy can be used in different situations and is one of the more common home remedies tried.
Many have questions as to when therapy with heat and therapy using cold temperatures should be tried. In many cases, this may depend on the individual and what that individual seems to respond best to. However, there are some general rules of thumb to live by. Those include using heat therapy for chronic pain, not acute pain. Chronic pain is that which is persistent. It may come and go, but it is usually consistently the same when it is present, though it may be present in varying degrees. Acute pain is one-time pain that is often associated with an injury at the approximate time the injury takes place. It may only lasts a matter of hours.
For those who have chronic pain, heat can help in a variety of different ways. First, chronic pain is usually caused by muscles or joints, rather than tendons or bones. Heat therapy helps relax those muscles and joints, thus providing some relief. However, heat should not be used in cases where there is pain immediately after exercising. In this case, pain may be lessened more effectively using ice, simply because the muscles are already warm.
When using heat, there are a variety of methods that can be used. Generally speaking, moist heat is the most effective choice. This type of heat therapy usually provides the greatest penetration across the greatest area. This can be done using a heated gel or even a moist towel soaked with hot water. Most first aid packs for temperature therapy can be used either hot or cold. Another popular option is the heating pad, which provides some relief and is probably the most convenient method used. Heating pads are also very inexpensive, often costing less than $20 US dollars (USD).
In most cases, heat therapy is used generally to control pain and will likely not provide a total cure for the ailment. In some cases though, the reduction of pain will help to provide full mobility to the joints and muscles. Thus, this type of therapy can almost seem like a cure. In some cases, the chronic pain may disappear forever. However, attributing this solely to heat is debatable.