Which is better: hot or cold therapy?

Heat therapy provides a solution to muscle stiffness! There's different types of heat therapy, and many reasons why you would use different techniques at different times. Continue reading to find out more information about this invaluable technique.


WHICH IS BETTER: HOT RO COLD THERAPY?

Heat therapy provides a solution to muscle stiffness! There are different types of heat therapy, and many reasons why you would use different techniques at different times. Continue reading to find out more information about this invaluable technique.

Heat is commonly associated with comfort and relaxation. When aching or in pain, people tend to alleviate their discomforts by applying heat to the area, often using hot water bottles and the like to do so.

With heat being used to relax the pain signals, we also find that cold too, is equally as effective in promoting healing and pain alleviation.

Ice is often used and applied to an area of discomfort or injury in order to relieve the pain. This raises the question, when should I use heat for therapy, and when should I use cold?

To answer this question, we must really understand how heat and cold work with our bodies to help us fight the pain, and encourage healing. Essentially, heat and cold have the same end result on the body, which is to ease pain and stimulate healing; however it’s the way in which they attack the problem where they differ and can benefit directly.

Heat causes the body to circulate more blood to the area by opening up blood vessels, allowing oxygen and nutrients into the area in order to cool down and relax the tissues, alleviating the tension and reducing pain. This promotes healing within the damaged tissue. As well as this, heat application facilitates stretching of soft tissue, decreasing the stiffness in the injury area, increasing flexibility and general feeling of comfort.

Cold also helps differently, by promoting healing by sending more blood to the area to warm it up, also numbing the nerves which reduces pain and tension in the area. With the colds deadening effect, the nerves are blocked and therefore don’t signal the muscles to contract, which can constrict the blood flow, slowing down the healing process.


WHEN SHOULD I USE HEAT THERAPY?

You should apply heat when you have chronic muscle tension and stiff, painful joints. There are various modern ways of applying heat to a treatment area, such as heating lamps, infrared heat transformers, hot tubs, heat sprays etc. However here at BackPainHelp.com we find that the best, most cost effective way of applying heat to targeted back pain areas is with the use of heat pads. These are low cost, compact and great for targeting low back pain directly.


WHEN SHOULD I USE COLD THERAPY?

When there is pain, muscle spasms, inflammation and slow circulation to an area then cold treatment is best as the superficial cooling decreases these symptoms, whilst also increasing the pain threshold. However, lying around on blocks of ice is neither practical, nor comfortable. Alike the heat pad solution, cool pads too, are the highly practical, low cost and reusable.

A general rule we like to follow is, if it is swollen and hot to the touch, you should use cold to reduce the temperature and pain. Whereas if it is stiff and achy, then using heat to relax the stiffness and reduce the pain. Understanding how and when to use hot and cold treatment for neck, shoulder and back pain can directly help you reduce the pain and discomfort experienced. However, as with every injury or illness, it’s important to seek out and follow the instructions of a professional medical opinion.