The Benefit of Hot and Cold Therapies

When you undergo physical therapy you are introduced to various rehab exercise equipment. Your therapy is also likely to be accompanied by cold and warm treatments before and after you perform certain exercises. Heat and ice packs are commonly used in physical rehab centers and plays an important role in healing and injury recovery. Heat draws blood to an injury, which means more oxygen and nutrients are sent to the injured target. Heat also relaxes tense muscles and reduces the likelihood of muscle spasms.

Physical therapy heat is applied in various forms, including hot compresses, heating pads, hydrotherapy, and heat gel packs. Hot packs must be wrapped in multiple layers of towels to prevent burning the patient. If the heat gel pack becomes damaged or punctured it must be immediately discarded, because the chemicals contained within the heat packs can burn skin.

Cold therapy is used to slow blood circulation down to the targeted injury. This has the benefit of reducing inflammation, muscle spasms, and pain. Cold therapy can take various forms, such as ice cubes, cold packs, iced compresses, and hydrotherapy. Cold therapy requires less time than heat therapy and is typically limited to no more than 15 minutes. This is because cold treatments last longer than their heated counterparts.

Cold treatments or ice should never be applied directly on the skin. Using a towel or other suitable barrier is needed to avoid causing skin and nerve damage. If a commercial ice pack is found to be damaged or punctured it should be thrown out and not used. The chemicals in ice packs can cause burning if the skin.
Cold packs and heat packs come in various sizes making it easy for physical therapists to customize and tailor the proper amount of cold or heat therapy to specific injuries. In addition, different types of heat pads are available as well as heated cushions. There are even heat wraps that can be heated up in a microwave giving therapists and patients instant access to this type of treatment. In addition, some cold packs can be strapped to the injury ensuring the injury gets maximum cold treatment.

Patients are introduced to various types of rehab exercises and equipment when they are in physical therapy. Furthermore, cold and hot therapy is commonly introduced both before and after exercise. Heat increases blood flow to the injury. This offers the benefit of increased oxygen and nutrients reaching the injury, which enhances the healing process. Cold therapy slows blood circulation and is used to reduce pain and inflammation.


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