heat-therapy-pain-chronic2Many people are aware that heat and cold can be used for everyday injuries. We’ve all seen an ice pack, or someone soaking their feet in warm water. But what about those who suffer from chronic pain? Those with chronic pain and inflammation that is deep within the skin and bones are directed to use heat for their pain. Millions of people suffer from chronic, painful conditions and are always trying to find new ways to take the pain away, but most may be unaware of how to use thermotherapy to their advantage, or that there are so many different types of heat applications.  Hot therapy has been around for ages, and like most good things, it has continued to improve in the way we use it.

For those who suffer from chronic inflammation, heat therapy may be the best way to go. It may sound strange applying heat to something that is already hot, but inflammation that occurs deeps within the tissue and bones of the body can be reduced by low levels of heat. Those who suffer from chronic pain like arthritis, rarely attempt to put ice or cold applications on their painful areas. Inflammation is a process that takes place when the body is injured in a specific area, and the body sends more blood to that area in order to supply healing properties and nutrients. When this happens, the area can swell up and feel quite painful. This isn’t just a process for injuries like a sprained ankle or broken arm either. Inflammation occurs in many chronic conditions such as arthritis, sciatica, or gout.  Applying heat to the inflamed area helps blood circulate faster to that spot, meaning that it helps speed up the inflammation process. It doesn’t stop inflammation dead in its tracks because inflammation is a natural and inevitable process that occurs. Speeding up the process of inflammation leads to less time spent with pain.

But here’s where it gets tricky.

If you have a fresh injury, and inflammation and swelling take place, applying heat can actually make things worse. But for those experiencing chronic, deep inflammation, heat will not make the area swell or more painful. Cold applications should be used for recent injuries and pretty much have no business in being used by those who are dealing with a daily inflammation. Heat can also be used for sore muscles or headaches.

So what’s the best way to use heat for chronic pain? Most may use heating pads, and thanks to the modern technology, they even make heat patches that you can apply to the skin so you’re not chained to the power cord of your heating pad. There are also “rice bags” or heating devices that can be heated in the microwave and can be taken on the go. They are usually just simple cloth bags filled with rice and other similar material, and you can even make your own.

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