What Does Applying Heat Do?
For pain, hot therapy works by increasing circulation and blood flow to a particular area caused by chronic pain. Increasing the temperature of the area even slightly can soothe discomfort and increase muscle flexibility and range of motion. Heat therapy can relax and soothe muscles and help with the healing of damaged tissue.
Zimmerman, GR. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. J Athl Train. 1994 March; 29(1): 22-24, 26-28, 30.
McDonald, JL. Fire and Ice: The great debate on the relative value of heat and ice in musculoskeletal therapy – a narrative review. Aust J Acupunct Chin Med 2007;2(2):3–8.
What Does Applying Cold Do?
For pain, cold therapy works by reducing blood flow to a particular area, which can significantly reduce inflammation and swelling caused by acute pain, especially around a joint or a tendon. It can temporarily reduce nerve activity, which can also relieve pain.
Relax Wraps May Be Used Both Hot And Cold
Why Use Hot & Cold Therapy?
Treating pain with hot and cold can be extremely effective for a number of different conditions and injuries. It is important to know what calls for hot, and when cold would be best. Sometimes the issue you are addressing will include both. Relax Wraps can easily go back and forth between hot and cold!
Hot & Cold Therapy
Important: Treat an area with heat or cold therapy for no more than 20 minutes at a time. Any more than this can risk damage to skin and tissues.
When Should Heat Be Avoided?
There are certain cases where heat therapy should not be used. If the area in question is either bruised or swollen (or both), it may be better to use cold therapy. Heat therapy also shouldn’t be applied to an area with an open wound. Do not apply heat when there is swelling, as this may increase swelling and prolong recovery.
People with certain pre-existing conditions should not use heat therapy due to higher risk of burns or complications due to heat application. These conditions include:
deep vein thrombosis
multiple sclerosis (MS)
When Should Cold Therapy Be Avoided?
People with sensory disorders that prevent them from feeling certain sensations should not use cold therapy at home because they may not be able to feel if damage is being done. This includes diabetes, which can result in nerve damage and lessened sensitivity.
You should not use cold therapy on stiff muscles or joints. Cold therapy should not be used if you have poor circulation.
Always consult your physician before beginning any treatment program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate treatment program. If you experience any pain or difficulty, stop and consult your healthcare provider.