What Is Hot/Cold Therapy? And When to Use It!
Medically Edited and Reviewed by Dr. Erin Zinkhan MD, BSBE
Have you ever sprained your ankle or suffered recurring pain in your joints? Have you heard of the hot and cold therapy options for aches and pains?
Hot or cold therapies are known to be two of the most effective and noninvasive methods of treating a variety of body pains. These therapy options are non-addictive approaches to ensure pain relief for both muscle pain and bone aches.
While hot and cold therapies are effective in relief from pain, your choice of whether to use hot or cold therapy is determined by assessing the length of time that you have had the pain and whether the pain recurs.
A new injury which causes pain may cause swelling on the affected area. Application of ice packs is the preferred way to bring down swelling and ease pain. On the other hand, recurring pain is best treated with the application of heat to the part of the body with pain, which ensures better circulation of blood to promote the healing process.
Hot and cold therapies are used to relieve specific types of pain, and there are different products which help you apply the right degree of heat and cold to the injured or aching body part.
Hot therapy, which is also known as heat therapy, is used to improve blood circulation and thus, speed up the healing process within the body. Heat also helps to relax muscles, which can decrease pain.
The heat from the therapy also decreases the chances of muscle spasms and improves the mobility of the joints and muscles. The application of heat to a painful area also enhances the overall flexibility of the ligaments and tendons of the body. Heat therapy is primarily recommended if you suffer from stiff joints with muscle and joint pain.
Both dry and moist heat application is used to treat pain in the body. Either microwavable or electronic heat pads can be used to apply the warmth to the affected area. Hot water bottles, hot water baths, and gel packs also can be used to help with pain relief by maintaining a constant temperature on the painful spot.
This pain therapy is used to slow down the blood circulation in the affected area, which helps bring down swelling and painful inflammation. Muscle spasms also can be decreased with the application of cold packs on a swollen, bruised, or injured area.
Cold therapy is ideal for the prompt treatment of sprains, bumps, or bruises resulting from a sports injury or heavy lifting.
Ice gel packs are generally used to ensure that a constant supply of cold temperature is applied to relieve the pain and bring down the swelling. The Versa Pac Reusable Cold Pack and the ACE Cold Compress are two products that help ensure effective cold therapy to treat any new injuries or bruises.
Both hot and cold therapy options are easy and effective treatment choices that help with quick pain relief, but the trick is to know which one to use for your particular pain relieving needs.