Heat Therapy vs Cold Therapy

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Heat Therapy & Cold Therapy

If there is pain anywhere in the body, first of all, everyone advises doing the fomentation. For this, anything can be done between heat therapy and cold therapy, but the method of using both is different. Where on the one hand the benefits of cold therapy are seen to reduce the pain immediately after injury. At the same time, the benefits of heat therapy can be effective in reducing chronic pain. Therefore, heat therapy and cold therapy have an important contribution in the field of medicine. In this article of Myhealthonly, we will talk about these two therapies in detail.

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Before knowing the benefits of cold therapy, we will talk about heat therapy.

What Is Heat Therapy?

Heat therapy is also called thermotherapy in the medical language. In this therapy, heat-providing devices such as hot clothes, hot water bottles, ultrasound, heating pads, hydro cooler packs, and whirlpool baths are used. Using them can help in reducing pain anywhere in the body. It is especially known to be beneficial in rheumatoid arthritis, muscle spasms, reducing the pain of injuries, and repairing damaged tissue.

Heat therapy can also be beneficial in many other problems. These include reducing joint stiffness and pain, as well as swelling problems, edema, and increased blood flow. Heat therapy improves blood flow to the affected area, which can provide relief from pain. Stay tuned to know more about other benefits of heat therapy in detail.

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After knowing about heat therapy, here are the types of heat therapy.

Types Of Heat Therapy

There are mainly two types of heat therapy, moist heat, and dry heat. Both of these are explained in detail below.

  • Moist Heat – It is also called convection heat. This is said to be a fast and effective method of heat application. Hot water and steam are used for this. Moist heat takes less time to heat. Examples are sauna baths, steamed towels, hot baths, hot tubs, and hot showers.
  • Dry Heat – This is also known as Conducted Heat Therapy. This therapy is done with the help of devices or sources of heat that are easy to use on specific parts of the body. These sources and equipment include hot packs, hot gels, heating pads, infrared saunas, and massage chairs.

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Here we will learn about the benefits of heat therapy in detail.

Health Benefits Of Heat Therapy

The benefits of heat therapy for health can be many. Here we are explaining in detail.

  • Muscle pain: A study published on the NCBI website found that heat therapy may be beneficial in reducing pain. At the same time, another research has shown that the use of heat therapy can improve blood flow in the body. Therefore, applying a heating pad or hot water bag can help relieve muscle pain. Also, using warm water compresses can also provide relief from back pain.
  • Relief from joint pain: Heat therapy can also be beneficial in the problem of joint pain. In fact, heat therapy increases the elasticity of tissue, which can reduce joint pain. In addition, heat therapy increases blood circulation in the body, which can help reduce pain.
  • Improving the Immune System: Heat therapy can also be used to improve a weakened immune system. Research done on this topic confirms this. According to research, heat is given through heat therapy on the whole body, due to which physical flexibility can increase the immune system.
  • The work of body detox: The benefits of heat therapy have also been seen for the removal of toxins from the body, that is, for detoxification. Research has found that by taking regular steam/sauna baths, the body sweats and toxins can also come out along with sweat.
  • For respiratory viruses: Respiratory viruses can cause mucus build-up in the nose. The use of heat therapy can be beneficial in this problem. According to research, hot springs, saunas, steam rooms, sweat lodges, steam inhalation, hot mud, and poultices can be used to prevent respiratory infections. It can also reduce the problem of congestion in the nose.

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After the benefits of heat therapy, know how you can use heat therapy.

How To Use Heat Therapy

Heat therapy is used in different ways as moist heat and dry heat. We are telling about their use below.

  1. Moist Heat Therapy-
  • Sauna bath: It is also called a steam bath. In this therapy, the person is sent to the steam room for some time. Where the steam coming from all around heats up the temperature, due to which the toxins present in the body can be flushed out through sweat.
  • Steamed towels: To do this therapy, soak a towel in water and squeeze it, then put it in the microwave to heat for 30 seconds. When the temperature of the towel becomes favorable, it is placed on the affected part.
  • Hot tub bath: In this therapy, a bathing tub is filled with water at a temperature of 48 to 55 degrees Celsius. Then they lie down in the tub for some time. In this therapy, the head remains outside the water.
  • Hot Shower: As the name suggests, in this therapy, the patient is treated by bathing him with hot water coming out of the shower.
  1. Dry Heat Therapy
  • Hot Packs: In this therapy, silicone packs filled with warm water are used to reduce the problem in the affected area.
  • Hot Gel Packs: In this therapy, certain types of gel packs available from the market are used. These gel packs are heated in water to a certain temperature before being applied to the affected area.
  • Heating Pad: This is also an electronic device, it is very easy to charge and heat it and use it on pain and injury.
  • Infrared Sauna: In this therapy, heat is provided to the body by infrared lamps using electromagnetic radiation. Along with this, the body is heated before heating the air in it.

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Let us now know at which stage heat therapy should be avoided.

When Not To Use Heat Therapy

There are some cases where heat therapy should not be used, such as a bodily injury or open wound. Apart from this, it is also advised not to use heat therapy in certain medical conditions, which are as follows:

  • When sensitive to heat.
  • Diabetes mellitus means a high level of glucose in the blood.
  • Atopic means inflammation of the skin.
  • In case of serious injury to the spinal cord.
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects the central nervous system.
  • In severe forms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • If pregnant, do not use the sauna or hot tub.

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Here we are giving information about how heat therapy can prove to be harmful.

Risks Of Heat Therapy

  • In addition to the benefits of heat therapy, it can also have some risk factors. Here we are telling about them.
  • Using a hot object in heat therapy can burn the skin.
  • If there is an infection and use of heat therapy, there may be an increased risk of spreading the infection.
  • Applying the therapy directly to the affected area can result in skin burns.
  • Using heating tools for more than 20 minutes at a time can be harmful to the skin.
  • If the problem of inflammation is severe, then taking heat therapy can make the problem worse.
  • Its negative effect can be seen in sensitive people.

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After heat therapy, now we will know in detail the benefits of cold therapy.

What Is Cold Therapy?

Cold therapy is also called cryotherapy. In this technique, the affected part of the body is exposed to a very cold temperature for a few minutes. Through this therapy, a particular part of the body or the whole body is treated. A variety of means are used for treatment, including ice packs, ice massages, coolant sprays, and ice baths.

Some people take this therapy only once or twice a month, but let us tell here that to see the quick effect, this therapy should be taken regularly as athletes take. They use cryotherapy about twice a day.

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Know here what are the types of cold therapy.

Comparison of heat and cold therapies
Hot vs. cold therapy

Types Of Cold Therapy

There are different methods of applying cold therapy to the affected area, which is mentioned below:

  • An ice pack or frozen gel pack: This is the most common form of cold therapy. To do this, cubes or crushed ice are used inside the ice pack. The research mentions that the use of ice packs can be beneficial for reducing pain and injury. In this, the level of pain can be reduced by reducing the intramuscular temperature during the treatment.
  • Ice Spray: As we mentioned, the condition of pain can be reduced by reducing the temperature. Similarly, the cooling effect of ice spray can also show its effect by cooling the affected area during treatment.
  • Ice Bath: In this technique, a person is made to sit in a small pool filled with ice water for 5 to 10 minutes, in which his entire body except the head remains in ice-cold water. Apart from this, a cooling chamber can also be used in this technology.
  • Ice Massage: In this technique, ice is used for massaging the affected area. Massaging in this way is believed to provide immediate relief from pain and swelling. Wrap it in a light cloth and massage it around the affected area or all over the body.

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After the type, it is the turn to know the benefits of cold therapy.

Benefits Of Cold Therapy

The benefits of cold therapy are explained in detail below.

  • Beneficial in Migraine: The use of cold therapy can be effective in the problem of migraine. Research has found that cold therapy has been used to treat migraine for about 150 years. In research, a mixture of salt and ice was wrapped around the patient’s head. It was found that ice somewhat reduced migraine pain by cooling the blood passing through the intracranial vessels.
  • Effective on the nervous system: The use of cold therapy can be beneficial in reducing pain by numbing the nerves. Research has found that constricting blood vessels through ice therapy can relieve pain by temporarily numbing the nerves in the affected area.
  • Improve mood: The use of ice therapy can also be considered effective in improving mood. According to research, health therapy can have a positive effect on people affected by mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. In fact, it may be helpful in releasing the hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline, and endorphins that reduce mood disorders. This can improve the mood a bit.
  • Reduce Arthritis Pain: The use of cold therapy can also be beneficial in inflammatory problems, such as arthritis. In a study conducted by scientists, it was found that through whole body cryotherapy, the pain in arthritis patients has been reduced to a great extent. In the research, patients were seated in a cold chamber for an average of 2.5 minutes during treatment, which found that their joint pain condition improved temporarily after the treatment.
  • Helpful in Alzheimer’s: Cold therapy can also be effective in reducing the problem of Alzheimer’s. Research on this topic found that the anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of cryotherapy can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress during Alzheimer’s.
  • In skin problems: Along with many diseases, the positive effect of cold therapy has also been seen in skin-related diseases. In fact, cryotherapy can improve the level of antioxidants in the blood as well as reduce the symptoms of dryness and itching caused by atopic dermatitis.

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In this part of the article, we will know how you can use cold therapy.

How To Use Cold Therapy

Before using cold therapy, keep in mind that ice should not be applied directly to the skin, as it can cause damage to the skin and tissue. In addition, ice compressing within 48 hours after the injury may help reduce pain. Here the method of use and the things to keep in mind are explained in detail.

  • Ice should be used on the affected area with light hands in a circular motion.
  • Cold therapy should be used up to six inches around the area where the pain is felt.
  • Ice massage should not be used directly on the skin. This can cause numbness in the bone.
  • It should not be kept in contact with the skin for a long time. It can be used on the skin for a maximum of 5 minutes.
  • This therapy can be repeated two to five times a day.

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Learn here things to keep in mind when using health therapy.

When Not To Use Cold Therapy –

  • Cold therapy should be avoided in the following circumstances.
  • Sensitive people should not use cold therapy.
  • Diabetic patients should also avoid using it.
  • Cold therapy should also not be used directly on muscles or stiff joints.
  • Cold therapy should not be used in case of low blood circulation.

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In this part of the article, we are telling how cold therapy is harmful.

Risks Of Cold Therapy

Here we are explaining in detail the risk factors of cold therapy.

  • Frost Bite: It is also called frostbite. If cold therapy is used for a long time or directly, it can affect parts of the body such as the nose, fingers, or toes due to exposure to cold. This can cause numbness or irritation of the skin.
  • Chronic Pain: This is called chronic or severe pain. When ice is kept on the affected area for an extended period of time, it can cause chronic pain or increase the pain.
  • Cold Injury: If cold therapy is used for a long time, then it can also cause cold injury.

The use of both heat therapy and cold therapy can be beneficial to a great extent when there is a problem of injury and pain, but it is important to consider some things before using both therapies. It should be kept in mind that the use of heat therapy and cold therapy for a long time can be harmful. Along with this, their use is not a cure for a serious problem, so if you have any kind of serious problem, definitely consult a doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions –

In what time gap should heat and cold therapy be used together?

Heat and cold therapy can be used at short intervals. For this, heat therapy is first used on the affected area for about 15 to 20 minutes. After a few hours, cold therapy should be used for 10 to 25 minutes. Usually, this should also be done two to three times a day. A doctor can be consulted for more information on this subject.

What do heat therapy and cold therapy help with?

Heat and cold therapy can help with a variety of physical problems. For example, heat therapy can be helpful in relieving many types of pain, increasing blood circulation, metabolism, and elasticity of tissue. At the same time, cold therapy can also be beneficial in relieving pain, edema, muscle cramps, and improving metabolism.

What should I use first Ice or Heat?

Ice is a better option for the first 72 hours after an injury, as it helps reduce swelling. At the same time, heat can help to relax the muscles. However, neither option should be used for more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Both these processes are explained in detail in the article.