As we continue our Chiropractic Care Series, this new series, we are looking at Heat and Cold Therapy – a noninvasive and nonaddictive pain-relief therapy used for muscle and joint pain.
What is Moist Heat and Cold Therapy?
Heat or cold therapy works by stimulating your body’s own healing force. Any new injury will tend to cause inflammation and possibly some swelling. The combination of heat and cold therapy, will decrease the blood flow to the injury thus decreasing inflammation and swelling, while pain can be treated with heat and will increase blood in the area and spur healing.
Heat Therapy: This treatment opens up ones blood vessels, increasing blood flow and oxygen and nutrients to help reduce pain in joints and relax sore muscles, ligaments, and tendons. It also decreases muscle spasms and can increase the range of motion.
Cold Therapy: This treatment slows down blood flow to an injury, thereby reducing pain and swelling. Cold therapy slows circulation, reducing inflammation, muscle spasm, and pain. It should be used if the area is swollen or bruised.
How do you safely use and apply Heat and Cold Therapy?
Heat Therapy: You can apply heat therapy either dry or moist warmth. Dry heat may dry our the skin, whereas moist heat may penetrate better. You can apply it in a variety of ways including a heating pad, gel packs, hot water bottle or hot water baths. The heat should be warm, not too hot, and should be maintained at a consistent temperature.
Cold Therapy: Cold is applied by an ice or gel pack. Apply cold packs or ice bags to injured areas for no more than 20 minutes at a time, removing the cold for 10 minutes and reapplying it again. Don’t apply it for longer than 20 minutes. Also, wrap ice or ice packs in a thin towel before applying.
What are the results from Heat and Cold Therapy?
Heat Therapy: Heat therapy can improve the flexibility of tendons and ligaments, reduce muscle spasms, and alleviate pain. Apply heat if you have stiff joints or chronic muscle and joint pain.
Cold Therapy: Cold therapy is good for sprains, strains, bumps, and bruises that may occur in sports or lifting.
If you are interested in heat or cold therapy to help with pain, contact us today and we can decide which treatment would be best for you.