Thermotherapy (heat therapy) is a procedure that involves the application of superficial heat to injured or damaged body parts. The heat alters tissue temperatures in targeted regions. These temperature increases make the tissues more extensible. Patients report experiencing pain relief and faster healing. That’s because this therapy technique improves blood circulation. The heat triggers vasodilatation (increasing blood flow) in the soft tissues. As a result, the tissues’ extensibility and metabolic rates also increase. The target tissues heal fast. The heat doesn’t impact surrounding areas.
Thermal therapy also accelerates tissue healing by increasing the amount of oxygen target locations receive. The increase in oxygen enables tissues to decrease the impact of destructive enzymes (e.g., collagenase). The catabolic rate of destructive enzymes increases. Overall, these effects accelerate healing, improve blood circulation, and provide pain relief to patients. From hot cloths and hot water bottles to heating pads and infrared radiation, physiotherapists use various tools to provide thermal therapy. This therapy technique is used to treat arthritis patients, rehabilitate injury victims, and provide pain relief for a variety of ailments.
This therapy technique can be divided into two application categories - direct contact and infrared radiation.
This simple form of therapy is very safe, effective, and easy to execute. Technically, you can get a hot water bag and perform this therapy at home without anyone’s assistance. However, therapists can cure some conditions only by heating deeper tissues. These processes require special equipment. Carrying out such processes on your own involves the risk of skin burns and tissue damage.
Different people benefit in different ways from this therapy technique. The most common benefits of thermotherapy (heat therapy) include:
This cost-effective therapy technique can provide pain relief to anyone, irrespective of their conditions. Be it a slip and fall accident, high fevers, or degenerative joint disease – thermal therapy can provide relief to all types of patients. Here are some conditions this therapy technique helps treat -
Physiotherapists determine whether patients are fit for receiving this therapy. Here are some people who aren’t eligible for treatment using this therapy –
Here are some simple steps patients can take to prepare for this therapy:
Physiotherapists apply heat to damaged body parts for only 15 to 20 minutes. Then, they gradually allow the target tissues to recover. Recovery times for patients vary based on their health conditions. It usually takes patients 30 minutes to experience significant pain relief.
Here are some therapy techniques that mimic the benefits of thermotherapy (heat therapy) – cryotherapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation therapy (TENS), ultrasound therapy, and interferential current therapy.