Join our mailing list!




You are here: Home > MASSAGE RESOURCES > Heat vs. Cold

THE BIG QUESTION
Apply Heat?     Apply Cold?

FAQ: "When should I use cold and when should I use hot to treat pain or injuries?

While both can be very effective, there are times when one or the other can cause more harm than good. Therefore it is important to know their effects and proper use.

HEAT
Therapy Guidelines

Heat promotes blood flow to an area and is known as a "vasodilator", for its "opening" effect on blood vessels and capillaries. For tight muscles which suffer from inhibited blood flow and the associated oxygen and other nutrients a healthy muscle needs, heat can be very helpful as long as the area is not inflamed. Moist heat especially can decrease pain caused by sore muscles and muscle spasms. (Do a search for "Thermophore" to find some great moist heat products!) Heat can be applied using gel packs heated in hot water, hot water bottles (TheraFlex makes some nice ones), a hot, moist towel, an electric heating pad (Thermophore) or by a hot bath, whirlpool or shower. A heating pad that creates its own moisture (called a hydrocollator) is an easy way to apply moist heat. Paraffin wax treatments are also great ways to treat stressed or arthritic joints.

Take care not to burn or damage the skin. Use extra caution if diabetic.

Place a soft towel or cloth between the heating pad and the skin.

Use the heating pad for an hour or less at a time.

Set the heating pad no higher than the medium (M) setting.

Take care when using a heating pad if you are taking medicines that make you sleepy or if the area being treated is numb.

Remove the heating pad before going to sleep.

Limit the heat therapy to ten or fifteen minutes at a time. Try ten minutes every one to two hours.

Wait at least twenty-four hours before applying heat to skin that has been bruised, cut or used for an injection or subjected to any "invasive" procedure. NOTE: Heat can increase bleeding.

Important: If the area is sore from overuse or inflamed, use Cold, NOT Heat!

COLD
Therapy Guidelines

Cold can reduce muscle spasms that come from joint problems or irritated nerves. Cold is the main treatment for pain caused by inflamed tissues and other swelling. Cold can stop the urge to scratch an itch. For the first line of treatment after a bruise or muscle strain, ice should be the first choice.

Plastic-sealed gel packs provide an easy way to apply cold to a painful body part. Wrap the pack with a layer of soft cloth or even a paper towel so that it is comfortable next to the skin. Keep the pack in place by wrapping it around the body part with a 6 inch elastic bandage, (or find a handy compression wrap that does this for you). They are reusable and can be kept in the refrigerator or freezer when not being used. Follow these guidelines when using cold treatments.

If the skin becomes irritated or pain increases, stop using the cold
therapy and notify a health care provider.

Limit the cold therapy to ten or fifteen minutes, make sure to be careful around bony areas, as skin can freeze rapidly in these areas.

Avoid use of cold over an area where circulation is poor or where there is numbness.

If the cold causes shivers, stop the treatment right away. Do not use cold so extreme that it causes pain.

TheraFlex

HOT and COLD
Therapeutic Relief

TheraFlex maintains an even temperature over the entire pad, hot or cold.

TheraFlex is the highest quality hot and cold therapy pack available.

TheraFlex is leak-proof and contains no liquids or dyes.

TheraFlex is biodegradable, non-caustic, and contains only FDA rated food grade ingredients.

TheraFlex is reusable.

HEAT
Therapy

 Microwave or heat TheraFlex in water.

 Gel construction keeps its pad like shape even at high temperatures.

 Gel pad will not liquefy when heated, making TheraFlex ideal for compression wraps.

 Gel contents will not leak if pack is punctured or torn.

COLD
Therapy

 TheraFlex stays flexible when frozen.

 Bends to fit and maintains thickness no matter how severe the bend.

 Gel contents will not leak if pack is punctured or torn.



Apply Hot or Cold?

Biofreeze Gel relieves pain by using cold therapy. This long lasting, deep penetrating pain relief can last up to several hours. Pain-Free muscles heal faster. Those who benefit the most are people who suffer from back pain, sore muscles and arthritis sufferers. Biofreeze helps relieve pain associated with auto and work-related injuries, sports injuries, and for all those who have a tendency to overuse or misuse their muscles and joints.

Biofreeze maximizes Cryotherapy (Cold Therapy), which has long been acknowledged by the medical community as an effective therapy to help reduce daily aches and pains.

Many Health Care Professionals recommend that their patients use Biofreeze for maximum pain relief between office visits.