Heat therapy, also called thermotherapy, is the application of heat to the body for pain relief and health.
It can take the form of a hot cloth, hot water, ultrasound, heating pad, hydrocollator packs, whirlpool baths, paraffin baths,
and many others. It can be beneficial to those with arthritis and stiff muscles and injuries to the deep tissue of the skin.
Heat is an effective self-care treatment for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
Heat therapy is most commonly used for rehabilitation purposes for
conditions like muscle spasms, myalgia, fibromyalgia, contracture and bursitis. The therapeutic effects of heat include increasing
the extensibility of collagen tissues; decreasing joint stiffness; reducing pain; relieving muscle spasms; reducing inflammation,
edema, and aiding in the post acute phase of healing; and increasing blood flow. The increased blood flow to the affected
area provides proteins, nutrients, and oxygen for better healing.
Heat therapy can also be used for the treatment of headaches and migraines. Many people
who suffer from chronic headaches also suffer from tight muscles in their neck and upper back. The application of constant
heat to the back/upper back area can help to release the tension associated with headache pain. Moist heat is more effective at warming tissues than dry heat because
water transfers heat more quickly than air. This results in the perception that the tissue is heated more deeply, which increases
the effect on muscles, joints, and soft tissue.