Heat treatment or thermotherapy is an effective process of healing from a sports injury. Understanding the when and how to use heat treatment is essential since it can even prolong the process of healing.
The Process Of Healing-
There are three stages of healing. The first phase is called the inflammatory phase. The goal for this phase is to ensure that no further damage happens to the affected area. It is during this phase that the swelling and the buildup of fluid happens. Heat treatment is not applicable here since it increases the blood circulation and can lengthen the healing process. The second phase is called proliferation. This is the phase where the introduction of scarring and new tissue takes place. This is the post-injury phase and heat treatment greatly helps during this time. The third phase is known as remodelling. It is the time when the new tissue matures and settles down. Thermotherapy can be applied in this phase as well.
Injuries that are treatable through thermotherapy-
Heat treatments are extremely effective in injuries such as muscle spasms along with back strains. It can also be applied to joint injuries related to a thumb, turf toe, elbow, wrist sprains and sprained ankles. The reason why heat treatment is effective in joint injuries is because heating significantly heats the bone and improves the range of motion. The idea behind any heat treatment is to make the tissue more extensible by warming it up. Exercises related to a range of motion should be performed for 15-20 minutes post the heat treatment.
How heat treatment helps in treating sports injuries?
Heat treatment significantly increases the blood circulation and help to eradicate dead skin and other toxic bodies from the origin of the injury.
It assists in metabolism of the cells.
It increases the capillary permeability.
It increases the number of nutrients and oxygen to the source of injury and speeds up the process of healing.
Heat treatments can cut down muscle spasms.
Types of Heat Treatments Available:
For heating deep tissues, ultrasound is the best form of treatment. It can penetrate up to 1.5 inches inside the skin. Basic strain injuries such as hamstring and rotator cuff are instantly treatable with ultrasound. This being said it is one of the most expensive methods of heat treatment. Then there is superficial heat therapy. This is convenient and readily available. They directly transfer heat from the source to the injury location. Common examples of these are a hot tub, paraffin bath and hot bags. The third type of heating mechanism is known as dry hot packs. They produce a steady source of heat and are run by either microwave or electricity. Caution should be taken in order to ensure that the heat does not burn the upper layer of the skin. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Physiotherapist.