For the management of chronic pain, heat therapy can be a great treatment tool for a patient. Heat therapy is also referred to as thermotherapy. In this therapy heat either through a direct or indirect application is used for providing relief in health and pain. The therapeutic treatment through heat alleviates the stiffness of the joints and provides muscle relaxation which further leads to ease in pain. When the heat is applied to the sore and painful joints and muscles the circulation and blood flow of the affected area gets improves drastically. After heat therapy, a patient might feel surging of the oxygenated and fresh blood which leads to pain getting diminished eventually. Therapeutic treatment through heat dilutes the accumulation of lactic acid waste which is also one of the factors leading to the development of chronic pain. Heat can be applied to the affected area of the patient in two distinct ways
The treatment through heat therapy can be done in the following ways:
Hot water bath or sauna or steam bath: using hot water baths and sauna belongs to the category of moist heat therapy. This type of heat therapy performs its function by relaxing the tension in the muscles thereby relieving the patient from the pain.
Hot water bottle: in this type of heat therapy the patient makes use of the hot water bottle. The bottle is filled with hot water and then the bottle is placed in the affected region for providing the necessary relief. It is one of the most commonly used heat therapy treatment around the world. This therapy is given for a period of nearly 20 to 30 minutes for alleviating the pain.
Electrical heating pad: this option of heat therapy makes use of electricity. The electric heating pad is connected to the electrical outlet which generates heat in the pad. The pad maintains a steady level of heat. Depending upon the need of the patient the level of heat can be adjusted.
Heated gel packs: this equipment for providing heat therapy is somewhat similar to the hot water bottle but instead of water these are packs comprising of gel. This is placed in the microwave and for heating. When the pack gets adequately heated then it is placed in the affected region for relief. This pack remains warm for a period of 30 minutes and is easily available in the majority of the pharmacies.
Heat wraps: these are used for providing a low level of heat therapy for several hours. These are the most convenient of all the equipment that provides heat for the treatment as it can be worn beneath the clothing. It is generally used for heat therapy treatment in the waist and lower back pain.
Infrared radiation: heating the affected parts of the body through infrared radiation has proven to be very beneficial for the patient. Heat therapy treatment using infrared radiation is advantageous in comparison to other direct contact heat therapy treatments since the radiation directly heats the neuron terminals and blood capillaries which are causing pain in the body of the patient. Infrared radiation heat therapy is also very advantageous as infrared radiations get readily absorbed in the body. There are three types of infrared heat therapy based on the penetration depth required for alleviating the pain. The three types of infrared radiation are IR-A (penetrates some millimeters), IR-B (penetrates through the dermis), and IR-C (penetrates through to the epidermis). The infrared lamps mainly used for heat therapy are IR-A.
The eligibility of the patient for treatment through heat therapy is confirmed if he/she is exhibiting the following conditions
It is the duty of the doctor to decide whether a specific patient is eligible for the treatment through heat therapy or not. A patient suffering from pain due to any external injury is not eligible for treatment using heat therapy. If the patient is suffering from the pain due to swelling and bruises then he/she is not eligible for treatment using heat therapy. In such a scenario a cold therapy would suit the patient much better. A doctor also takes into consideration the medical history of the patient. A doctor does not recommend treatment through heat therapy if the patient is suffering from any of the following pre-existing medical condition
A patient undergoing any minor or major treatment has some minor or major side effect associated with it. In the majority of the cases, the side effects vary from individual to individual. Some people undergoing treatment may experience a minor side effect while others undergoing the same treatment might experience a major side effect. The minor side effect experienced by the patient vanishes after a small period of time but in case a serious side effect is encountered then the doctor must be informed as soon as possible. Treatment of pain through heat therapy also has its share of side effects like skin discoloration, and the formation of blisters on the skin. The side effects arise in heat therapy when the patient makes use of hot temperatures in place of warm temperatures.In case any of these side effects persists or there any other health issues arising during or after treatment, kindly consult the doctor immediately.
The post-treatment guidelines are a set of activities which are either required to be followed so that complete recovery of the patient can take place after the treatment gets finished. These post-treatment guidelines are not only effective in recovery but they also prevent the medical condition from reoccurring in the future. Some post-treatment guidelines which must be followed by the patient after the treatment are
The recovery time for the patient varies from patient to patient based on his or her health condition. The recovery of the patient from chronic pain after heat therapy usually takes 20 to 30 minutes based on the condition for which the therapy is being given. In some cases, it might take nearly an hour before the relief starts to set in.
The cost of treating the condition of chronic pain using heath therapy is very cheap in India. Equipment which helps in imparting heat therapy is available at economical prices. The hot water bottle in India costs around 300 rupees. The average price of heat wraps in India ranges from 200 to 250 rupees. The cost of a heated gel pack in India is approximately 600 rupees. The electrical heating pad in India costs around 550 rupees. For the heat therapy through infrared radiation, the cost in India ranges from 300 to 600 rupees per session depending upon the location where the infrared radiation heat therapy is undertaken.
The results of the treatment of heat therapy are not permanent rather they are immediate. This therapy only provides instant relief and a patient might require the treatment through this therapy again in the future when a painful condition arises.
Apart from the heat therapy treatment for the management of pain a patient may opt for alternative treatment techniques like physiotherapy and manual therapy as they might be able to provide prolonged relief in the condition. A patient may also opt for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for alleviating the pain.