Heat Therapy is typically used for chronic pain that has no swelling. Chronic refers to an injury, illness or disease that develops slowly and is persistent and long lasting. Because the symptoms are often mild, they are often ignored or overlooked for months or years. It begins as a small nagging ache or pain and can grow into a debilitating injury if not treated early. Chronic injuries are also referred to as cumulative trauma, overuse injury, or repetitive stress injury.
Effects of heat therapy,
Heat applications warms the tissue beneath it causing the veins to dilate and increasing blood flow. This results in an increase in metabolism, oxygen and nutrient supply.
Heat therapy reduces pain by slowing the nerves ability to send signals to the brain.
Warming muscle fibers reduces their sensitivity and rate of firing, resulting in less spasms.
Heat therapy increases the extensibility of collagen tissue, making joints and muscles more flexible.
Heat therapy applied to an arm or leg will cause an increase in blood flow to the opposite limb.
Heat therapy promotes a general feeling of sedation and relaxation.
When not to use Heat therapy,
Heat therapy should not be used on any area that has decreased sensation.
It should not be used on anyone that cannot communicate or remove the source of heat by themselves, such as an infant.
Heat therapy should not be used on an acute injury (within the first 48 hours)
Do not apply heat therapy to acutely inflamed joints, or acute infections.