Heat therapy: Benefits and When to use

Heat therapy is also termed as thermotherapy. This therapy makes use of heat for relief of pain and for well-being of human body. There are various methods of using this therapy and it may involve using hot water cloth, heating pad, heating hydro-collator packs, heat therapy cordless wraps, ultrasound and many other options. You can even find a massage chair that is capable of offering heat therapy. A number of people can gain benefits of this therapy but it works wonderfully well for people suffering from arthritis, deep tissue injuries, inflammation and muscle stiffness. Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can also be treated with heat therapy. There are extensive health benefits of this therapy that we will explore further here. Heat therapy offer nutrients, proteins and oxygen that work for healing of various problems.
Benefit of Heat therapy

Types of Heat Therapy:

In general there are two different types of heat therapy:

  • Moist Heat: This involves using hot baths, heating packs (moist) or towels (steamed). Use of these products help in penetration of heat deep in to muscles and gives users relief from pain.
  • Dry Heat: This involves using electric heat pads. This technique draws out moisture from one’s body and you may feel that the skin gets dehydrated. But some people who have experienced this therapy feel that this works best and is simplest form of heat therapy.

It is best to consult your therapist or doctor to make sure which source for heat therapy would work best for you?

How Heat Therapy Works?

Heat applied through any form for a therapy opens up your blood vessels and thus promotes blood circulation. Nutrients and oxygen is supplied to these vessels that reduce soreness and pains in muscles and joints. Warm heat improves motion and increases flexibility of your muscles, ligaments and tendons.

People or Conditions to Gain Benefit from Heat Therapy!

Heat therapy rises temperature of your tissues and gives supply of nutrients and oxygen. At the same time it helps in elimination carbon dioxide. People suffering from the following health conditions can gain benefit out of heat therapies.

  • Muscle Spasms
  • Abdominal Cramps
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Contracture
  • Myalgia
  • Bursitis
  • Menstrual pain
  • Cancer
  • Thrombophlebitis (blood vessel clotting)
  • Other infections

Usefulness of Heat Therapy:

Heat therapy also proves beneficial for headache and for treatment of migraines. Chronic headache usually also gives rise to tightening of neck and upper back muscles. Tension around these areas can be relieved by applying heat constantly to these parts of your body. For headaches, many people use microwaveable pads that user can heat. However avoid overheating these products as it can give you injury. A better option would be to use products that include heated water. Heated water maintains a certain temperature and thus you need not to run and hold through pads for heat therapy treatment of headache.
back painHeat therapies are termed to be ideal option for relieving stiffness of joints. Application of heat through shortwave and microwave can also reduce muscle spasms. These therapies increase absorption of hematomas which allows for stretching of muscles and relieving of stiffness. Hyperthermia used for heat therapy can treat cancer along with the treatment of ionizing radiation.

If you are not suffering from any chronic health problem, you can work your way to choose best heat therapy for you by experiencing different styles. A therapy that may work best for you may not work well for another person so it is best to choose according to your own preference.

People or Conditions Where Heat Therapy is No Option:

There are certain health conditions and problems where heat therapy must not be used as it could only worsen your situation rather than aid in healing. You will feel no better with heat therapy if you have:

  • Swollen or bruised lower back
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Diabetes
  • Acute cognitive impairment
  • Acute injury or open wound
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Dermatitis
  • Peripheral Vascular disease

If you have hypertension or cardiac issues, you must consult your doctor before applying any kind of heat therapy.

Don’ts of Heat Therapy for Safe Use:

Please follow these tips in order to ensure safe and beneficial use of heat therapy for your condition:

  • Any heat therapy product or device must not come in direct contact with your body or skin. Make sure it is wrapped in a thin towel.
  • Heat therapy must not be applied for more than 20 minutes until and unless suggested by your therapist or doctor.
  • Swelling must not be treated with heat therapy. Instead you should use cold therapy before heat.
  • Diabetic patients and those with poor blood circulation should not use heat therapy.
  • Any open wound or stitches must not be treated with heat.
  • Lying down directly on a heating pad and falling asleep can burn your skin badly.
  • Avoid overheating or burning your skin and thus you should make sure that there is proper insulation between product and your body or skin.


Heat therapy is a simple, inexpensive yet really helpful treatment to get relief from pain and stress from different parts of your body. It deals really well for your lower back pain. You can use heat therapy along with other different types of massages therapies. The main charm of this therapy is in its simplicity and this is the reason why many physical therapists often overlook this method of treating various muscular pains and problems. We recommend you to always consult your physician before apply any therapies on your body.