Most commonly used for rehabilitation purposes, heat therapy is the application of heat to the body for pain relief and health. It can be performed using something as simple as a heat to cloth to as advanced as ultrasound.
The therapeutic effects of heat include increasing the extensibility of collagen tissues; decreasing joint stiffness; reducing pain; relieving muscle spasms; reducing inflammation, edema, and aids in the post acute phase of healing; and increasing blood flow. The increased blood flow to the affected area provides proteins, nutrients, and oxygen for better healing.
Heat creates higher tissue temperatures, which produces vasodilation that increases the supply of oxygen, and nutrients and the elimination of carbon dioxide and metabolic waste. It is useful for muscle spasms, myalgia, fibromyalgia, contracture, and bursitis.Heat therapy can also be used for the treatment of headaches and migraines.
Heat therapy is only part of the therapeutic procedure that is chiropractic, and rarely provides a full extent of recovery without it.
Heat therapy should not be used on swollen or bruised tissues. It is advised that patients who have dermatitis, deep vein thrombosis, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, open wounds, and cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension not use heat therapy.