Hot & Cold Therapy
Hot and Cold Therapy TreatmentsHot and cold therapy are two popular treatment options for injuries. However, each treatment type is different.
How Hot and Cold Treatments WorkToday, hot and cold treatments are common because they work well for many injuries. However, always consult with your doctor to determine the best treatment for your situation.
Hot TreatmentHot packs increase the flow of blood to the area where it's applied. So, it's a good option for relieving:
Cold TreatmentCold treatment decreases the flow of blood to the area it's applied. It's a good option for reducing or relieving:
Both treatments work for many of the same injuries and are sometimes alternated to get the most relief. Unless instructed by a healthcare professional, you shouldn't use either hot or cold treatments for over 20 minutes at a time.
Hot Therapy Treatment OptionsThe most common heat therapy treatments are hot packs, paraffin bath therapy, and ultrasound therapy.
Paraffin BathsParaffin baths offer a great hot treatment option to relieve pain and stiffness. They are accommodating for those living with osteoarthritis. Paraffin wax is available in wintergreen scent or unscented varieties. Always follow unit instructions and safety precautions, and about four pounds of wax are standard.
Hot PacksHot packs improve blood flow and circulation to loosen stiff muscles and relieve pain. Hot packs like McKesson disposable compresses are a great on-the-go option and can stay hot for up to 20 minutes from the time you activate it.
They are made of a latex-free soft cloth and come in a 24-count package and two varieties:
Reusable hot packs are often dual purpose as they can also serve as a cold pack. For example, gel pillows either freeze for cold treatment or microwave for heat treatment. The benefit of a dual-purpose hot and cold pack means you always have what you need. All you need to do is freeze it for cold therapy or microwave it for heat therapy. However, follow directions carefully and always wrap the hot-cold pack in a soft cloth or towel to prevent injury.
Cold Therapy Treatment OptionsCold packs constrict the blood vessels where you apply them, which is especially helpful during the first 72 hours of an injury.
There are two types of cold packs:
Disposable cold packs are made of plastic, ammonia nitrate, and water. They come in 16- to 50-count packages. The size of these cold packs also ranges from 4.7 x 5.5 inches to 6 x 9 inches. To use them, gently squeeze them to pop the internal liner, then shake the contents to activate the cold pack. As with the hot packs, it's best to use them with a soft cloth and use them for only 20 minutes at a time unless otherwise directed by your provider.
Some disposable cold packs, like O&M Halyard cooling packs, are made of patented Stay-Dry™ material and contain a pouch for ice insertion.
Reusable cold packs are made of fabric or knit material for added comfort and to combat moisture condensation. These packs have pockets where you can add ice. They come in three sizes:
Remember, always check with your doctor for guidance on determining the best hot or cold treatment for your situation.