Hot And Cold Therapy: Do You Know When And How To Use Them?

hot and cold therapy

Many of us have heard of hot and cold compress. Doctors recommend them to help in certain conditions which require some sort of pain management. The question, however, is do we know when to use hot compress and when to use cold compress?

Both hot and cold compresses, also called temperature therapy, are 2 ways to manage pain and doctors recommend either based on the kind of condition the patient has.

Hot/Warm Treatment

At the onset, hot here is not “hot”; the term hot is simply used because it has been the term used for a very long time. The temperature for hot compress is really warm.

Warm temperature helps alleviate or relieve taut joints. It also helps relax muscles. It’s perfect for the following conditions: rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, back pain, neck pain, and fibromyalgia.

Most people use temperature therapy as first aid.

When to Use It? Or when is it okay to use hot or warm temperature? You can use hot or warm when you feel or experience any of these symptoms:

Muscle aches, stiffness, pain, and spasm;

Pain affecting lower back, upper back, buttock, arm, foot, hip, foot, leg, neck, shoulders , and thigh;

Warm compress can also be used when there’s reduced joint movement, swollen joint, stiff joint, joint pain, warm joint, stiff neck, elbow pain, ankle pain, pain in the fingers, pain in the hands, wrist pain, knee pain, tender points, and when there’s tenderness in the painful area.

For warm therapy, packs or compresses can be used. To make a warm compress, you can use an electric heating pad and/or a gel pack that you can heat using your microwave oven. Gel packs can be bought from pharmacies and/or drugstores. To make a warm compress, use a small towel or washcloth. Be sure it’s clean and soak it in hot water. Wring out, fold, and then cover with a dry towel before applying it on the affected area. You can apply the warm therapy to the affected area for 15-20 minutes when needed.

Cold Treatment

Cold treatment is best to numb pain and also to reduce inflammation. It is normally used to treat conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, neck pain, back pain, and also fibromyalgia. These conditions are often triggered when doing excessive physical activities like lifting and/or carrying heavy things, when doing extreme exercises, in an accident involving injuries. Sometimes even simple tasks such as gardening and holding a child can also cause injuries.  Extreme weather changes can also be a factor.

To make a cold pad, you can use a frozen gel pack, a bag of ice, or a pack of frozen vegetables. Just be sure to cover it with a dry towel before putting it over the affected area.

This article is written by Siena Lombardi of

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