31 Jul Hot & Cold Therapies
MANAGE YOUR PAIN: The Natural Way
Episode 1 – Hot & Cold Therapies
Hello! And welcome to another episode of Dr. Venus: On Call. I am excited to be kicking off my series on Manage Your Pain: The Natural Way. We’ll be exploring the many different ways to manage your pain without having to resort to taking pills or surgical procedures. We’re doing things naturally. Sound good? Let’s get to it.
Today, I’ve partnered with Thermotex to show you how to manage pain with hot and cold therapies.
Heat and ice have been used for years upon years to manage pain and so many people have found them effective for pain relief. There have been studies to investigate whether heat and ice really influence healing, but the results have been somewhat inconclusive for the most part. However, because these are low-cost, relatively safe when used correctly, and they do make people feel better, I find heat or ice to be a great way to manage pain. But I get asked all the time which you should use – hot or cold – in which situations. And what about this alternating hot and cold thing? When should you do that?
Well here’s the low down…
Let me start with ice first. Ice is for fresh injuries. We call them acute injuries which tend to be immediately painful and often result from traumatic incidents like a fall, twisting movement, or a direct blow. Ice cools the tissues and causes constriction of the surrounding blood vessels. So it controls bleeding, inflammation, swelling, and pain in this acute situation. Sometimes, you can use ice to reduce any residual swelling after exercise or physical therapy.
It can be applied over an area for 15 to 20 minutes, 3 to 4 times per day initially, and then on an as needed basis. But the duration that ice should remain in contact depends on the size of the area being treated and the depth of the injured tissues. Frostbite and even injury to nerves has been described in some uses of ice, so cold therapy needs to be monitored closely. If you’re simply using ice cubes in a plastic bag, I advise having a cloth layer between the bag and your skin; perhaps a towel or bandage wrap.
Now let me move on to chronic injuries. This is generally when heat should be used. It can help relax tight muscles, relieve achy joints, increase the elasticity of tendons, and increase blood flow to the area. You might also what to use heat prior to exercise for chronic injuries to warm up the muscles and increase flexibility.
Heat therapy should be applied for 15 to 20 minutes in the form of heat rub, hot water bottles, a warm damp towel, or a commercially available heating pad. And again, if you’re using something like a hot water bottle, place a suitable layer of protection over the skin to prevent burns.
But what about the alternating hot and cold treatment I mentioned? After about the first 3 to 5 days following an acute injury, once there is no bleeding and no signs of inflammation you can consider alternating between hot and cold therapies. The theory behind this is to create a “pumping mechanism” of opening the blood vessels with heat, and constricting them with ice. So you can alternate submerging the injured area in hot and cold baths, or you can apply alternating hot and cold packs. You can imagine that the heat encourages healthy blood flow to the area while the ice helps disperse the lactic acid and other inflammatory agents.
Now there are a couple of cautions to be aware of when using heat therapy: Anyone with decreased skin sensitivity can be at increased risk for burns. So people with conditions like Diabetes or spinal cord injuries should be careful. Heat therapy can also increase inflammation in those with rheumatoid disorders or multiple sclerosis. Definitely consult with your doctor before using heat if you have any questions or concerns.
Up to this point, I’ve primarily discussed use of superficial methods of applying heat or ice…things like hot water bottles, plastic bags filled with ice, or an electrical heating pad. But there is another option when it comes to heat therapy, and that’s far infrared heat. Infrared light is part of the sun’s invisible light spectrum. It has the ability to penetrate deep into our body’s tissues. Infrared heat therapy uses these characteristics of infrared light to heat the body directly rather than just the air surrounding the skin.
This is one of the major advantages of infrared heat therapy over standard heating pads. Superficial heat from a standard pad only penetrates a few millimeters deep. Heat from an infrared pad goes much deeper below the skin’s surface, as much as 6 cm (that a little over 2 inches). So an infrared heating pad can be much more effective for deep, chronic pain; and because it goes deeper the pain relief can last longer.
Another advantage of an infrared pad is one that I’ve already alluded to and that’s the risk of burns. If you were to fall asleep on an electrical heating pad, you could end up with a severe burn. But due to the nature of infrared radiation, you don’t get these burns with infrared heating pads. It also doesn’t cause drying of the skin which can occur with superficial heat.
When choosing an infrared heating pad, I think it’s important to find one that actually covers the area you want to heat. Now the pad does not need to be in tight contact with the skin – remember that infrared heat penetrate deeper than a standard heat pad – but you should try to find an infrared device that has some flexibility to it, making it easier to apply to various areas of your body. That’s why I like the Thermotex Platinum system. It has 3 separate infrared elements which gives it the versatility to be used at different places on your body. You can wrap it around your midsection to relieve back pain. You can lay it over your shoulder. And you can even place it around your knee. And because you don’t have the risk of burns like you do with superficial heating pads, you can leave it on longer. I recommend at least 30 to 45 minutes of treatment, or more if you like. And you’ll find benefit from using it anywhere from 2 to 4 times perday.
You can order a Thermotex Platinum system elsewhere, but I’ve provided a purchase link here for your convenience, if you’re interested in trying it out. (Thermotex link: Click HERE)
And you can get a discount as well as FREE SHIPPING if you use my promo code
DRVENUSX for the Platinum product (code expires 8/31/17).
DRVENUS for all other products.
Thanks for watching. Hope you learned some great information that can help you achieve safe and effective pain relief. This is just the start of my series MANAGE YOUR PAIN THE NATURAL WAY. I will be back every month with another way to naturally relieve pain. If you’re interested in a specific topic or therapy, please message me and tell me what you want me to cover! You can find my contact info at my website DoctorVenus.com. Until next time!
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Dr. Venus Ramos is limited in the ability to perform full exam & work-up on this web site & video. Information provided here is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice and is not intended to replace a complete consultation with a physician, nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. This is a sponsored post that contain an affiliate link. The products are available to you outside of this link, but it is offered here for your convenience. Although this post is sponsored, all expressed views and opinions are solely that of Dr. Venus Ramos. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.