Heat therapy is a treatment in the medical field to relieve pain and improve over health. It can be a therapy used only once, repeatedly in rehabilitation sessions, or as part of an after-care routine in sports medicine. It can be delivered in many forms with success in all.
How the Heat Helps
As heat is introduced to the area, the temperature will increase beginning from the outer layer and moving deeper into the tissues. After the change in temperature, the blood vessels in the area of the change will dilate. It is a natural response for the body to increase the diameter of vessels when temperature increases. This vasodilation will bring more blood to the area because of the increased size of the vessels. The increase in blood means an increase in oxygen as well. If there is more oxygen, carbon dioxide is displaced from the area along with toxins. All of these changes aid in the healing process within the body.
Methods of Heat Therapy
Heat can be applied to the area of concern in many different ways. All have been proven effective with equal results. Heat can be applied with steam, hot water, hot cloths either dry or wet, a heating pad, chemical hot packs, or a carbon fiber heater.
Uses for Heat Therapy
Heat therapy can be beneficial for many complaints. It is commonly used in therapy for post injury care. Heat has been beneficial in treating many ailments such as muscle spasms, general pain, stiff joints, contracture and wound care post-surgery. Heat in these situations increase the elasticity of collagen, decrease inflammation and decrease edema.
Heat therapy is especially helpful for sufferers of chronic migraines or headaches. Often the cause of the headache is tight muscles in the neck and upper back. This tension is caused by stress typically. By applying heat to the upper neck and back, the muscles relax and the headache eases.