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Thermotherapy: The Benefits of Heat Treatment

Thermotherapy, or the application of heat on soft tissue to change its core temperature, has been used since ancient times as a method of treating pain and increasing comfort in and around sore/injured joints, muscles and soft tissue. Modern technology now makes this very convenient, with microwaveable heat packs readily available, but how can something so simple make such a difference?

Essentially, heat has several important benefits which include:

  • Reducing resting muscle tension by increasing tissue elasticity which in turn relaxes stiff/tight areas
  • Causing vasodilatation (dilation) of the blood vessels which creates an increase in circulation to the affected area(s). This delivers precious nutrients, oxygen and cells that the body needs in order to heal
  • Blocking the transmission of pain signals to the brain, which results in an instantaneous and effective mode of pain relief
  • Promoting a speedier healing rate by stimulating your natural metabolic rate. In other words, there is more energy available to fix the injury quicker!

There has been plenty of research looking at the physiological effects and efficacy of using heat as a means for pain relief. The following studies showed there was solid evidence to use heat to help reduce pain, along with a variety of other effects;

A common way to use heat for pain relief is with the application of heat packs, like Wili Heat Bags which are available at Move! 

We love that they’re an Adelaide based brand, with 100% cotton, low odour heat bags that can be a great option for the self administration of thermotherapy! Filled with legumes, they are long lasting and non-sweating, and are available in a wide range of sizes to accommodate whatever use is best suited for your treatment or just some relaxation time.

Some of their common types of heat packs include:

  • Back wraps
  • Neck wraps
  • Hand warmers

One thing to keep in mind is the use of heat packs may not be right for every person, particularly those with decreased skin sensations or decreased thermal sensitivity.

Please talk to your allied health provider to see if this might be something that could be helpful for you, and check out our new range of Wili Heat Bags when you’re next at Malvern!

 

 

References

The Efficacy of Thermotherapy and Cryotherapy on Pain Relief in Patients with Acute Low Back Pain, A Clinical Trial Study

The physiologic basis and clinical applications of cryotherapy and thermotherapy for the pain practitioner

Mechanisms and efficacy of heat and cold therapies for musculoskeletal injury

Thermotherapy: Physiopedia

Wili Heat Bags: About Us 

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