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When do I use Heat therapy or Heat Therapy

hydro1Heat is generally used for increasing blood flow to the area and helping muscles and tendons to relax during chronic phases of injury – in other words, an injury that has been around for long periods. By using heat, we are better able to relax tight muscles. Heat has been thought to increase the inflammatory process and thus is usually not advised during the acute phase (immediate post injury phase).

What heat treatments are available?

Heat can be administered using a variety of ways including: hot packs (offered by the clinic), hydrocullator pads (offered by the clinic), paraffin baths, whirlpools, and hot towels. No matter which way is utilized, it is important to monitor the skin for inflammation via redness. The main concern is that the individual may burn themselves if not monitored. Before using heat, always be sure to consult with your health provider.

Can Heat Therapy help my lower back strain?

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According to the latest evidence, heat therapy application can help provide lower back pain relief through several mechanisms:

  1. Heat therapy opens the blood vessels of the muscles surrounding the lower back. This process increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles which helps to heal any damaged tissue.
  2. Heat stimulates sensory receptors in the skin, which means that applying heat to the lower back will decrease pain signals to the brain and thus relieve the discomfort.
  3. Heat application facilitates stretching the soft tissues around the spine. Consequently, there will be a decrease in stiffness as well as injury, with an increase in flexibility and overall feeling of comfort.
  4. Flexibility is very important for a healthy back.

How do I apply heat therapy?

Patients should not have their heat source be hot to the point of burning the skin. Warm is the proper temperature. The duration that one needs to apply the heat is based on the type of and/or severity of the injury. For minor back tension, short amounts of heat therapy may be sufficient. Usually around 15 to 20 minutes. For more intense injuries, longer sessions of heat may be more beneficial. Usually around 30 minutes to 2 hours.

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Source: Spine Health