Nature has provided us many things to live a healthier life but we tend to overlook many of the available resources because of ignorance or our belief that science is better than nature. I’m not saying that science is not good but what I’m trying to emphasis is that nature is filled with many things that can keep us healthy. In the developing countries of the world many people still look for the things in “nature” to heal them even though some of them overuse natural products to their own peril.
Heat is something that doesn’t need to be described for anybody but do you also know that heat can be used to treat certain ailments? The use of heat for treating illness is known as thermotherapy. There is also a process call “Cryotherapy” which is the use of cold to treat illness. But in this article my focus will only be on thermotherapy which I already explained is using heat to treat illness.
Heat can be very therapeutic in certain conditions but we need to know which conditions because it is not useful for every kind of illness. There are two kinds of heat we’re talking about; dry heat and moist heat. How does heat work for the healing process? Heat can help in treatment of certain diseases by raising the body temperature of the affected area and thus improving blood circulation, dilating the blood vessels and improving the flow of oxygen and nutrients to thereby healing the damaged tissues. Heat also stimulates the sensory receptors in the skin and decreases pain signal transmission to the brain making the patient feel less pain. Heat therapy facilitates the stretching of soft tissues around the spine, connective tissues and adhesion and decreases stiffness while increasing muscle flexibility. A research was conducted that found patients with lower back pain reported significant less pain with heat therapy (Morteza, D., Farahbod, F., 2014).
When using heat treatment, it is important to remember to keep it warm and not hot temperature to avoid burning yourself or someone else. Dry heat comes from sources like heating pad, dry heat packs and saunas while moist heat are from steam towels, moist heat packs or baths. There is also professional heat therapy from ultrasounds which is also therapeutic. Heat treatment works best when used in combination with other treatments recommended by your doctor or physical therapist. It is better to have a sustained longer treatment until the pain or problem goes away. Each treatment should last at least 10 to 30 minutes.
What kind of condition is heat therapy good for? The major benefits are for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, neck and shoulder pain, fibromyalgia, muscle pain, stiffness, back and shoulder pain, hip and foot pain, muscle tension, spasm.
What is heat treatment not recommended for? You should not use heat on open wound, bruised or swollen injury, people with diabetes, dermatitis, vascular disease, multiple sclerosis, and deep vein thrombosis.
Heat therapy is very inexpensive and convenience and it works if done consistently. But if it doesn’t seem to help you after several trials you should contact your personal physician for more evaluations of your medical problem.
Dehghan, Morteza. Farahbod, Farinaz. 2014, The Efficacy of Thermotherapy and Cryotherapy on Pain Relief in Patients with Acute Low Back pain, A Clinical Trial Study. Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research.