Heat / Cold Therapy, how it works and how to use it
At Hug, we are often asked when should heat be used to help relieve pain, and when should cold therapy be used?
Here's the lowdown:
- Cold treatment reduces inflammation by restricting blood vessels and so reducing blood flow. Apply as soon as possible after an injury, preferably within 48 hours.
- Heat treatment promotes blood flow and helps muscles relax. Use for chronic pain and cramping.
- Alternating heat and cold may help reduce exercise-induced muscle pain.
- Never use extreme heat, and never put ice directly on the skin
Get the most from your Hug by using it over and over, hot or cold.
More on cold therapy
Cold therapy is especially useful for the following conditions, and acts as a local anesthetic for painful areas:
- a recent injury
A cold mask or wrap around the forehead may help reduce the pain of a migraine.
Don't use an icepack directly on the skin, we recommend using your cold hug over the top of an item of clothing, particularly if it has been in the freezer as opposed to the fridge to chill it down.
Back pain is often due to increased muscle tension, which can be aggravated by cold treatments.
For back pain, heat treatment might be a better option.
More on Heat treatment
Conversely to cold treatment, applying Heat will open the blood vessels, improve flow in the area of application and help sore, tight muscles relax.
Improved circulation can help eliminate the buildup of lactic acid waste which can occur after exercise. There is also no doubt that heat is comforting and can help you feel psychologically better quickly.
Heat treatment is useful for:
- Heat therapy is usually more effective than cold at treating chronic muscle pain or sore joints caused by arthritis
- Neck or back pain, especially for low back pain relief
- Abdominal pain relief due to cramping and period pain
It is important to be careful with the amount of heat being applied, particularly if you have reduced sensation in the area of application, are taking medication or plan on falling asleep. Use the temperature safety indicator on Hug as a guide if you are unsure about these factors.
Hot and cold in combination can be surprisingly useful too!
A warm Hug wrapped around the neck and a cool Hug on the forehead is understood to be a particularly effective treatment for Headaches.
How effective is heat therapy?
In 2006, a study found that patients with lower back pain who exercised and use continuous low-level heat wrap therapy experienced less pain than those who did not use this treatment. Applying low level heat to the lower back for extended periods of time can be challenging, thankfully, Hug can be worn hands free around the waist and low back, providing comforting heat and relief.
Previous studies had shown that, for some people, continuous,low level heat therapy relieved pain more effectively than oral painkillers such as acetaminophen, and ibuprofen.
It turns out your Granny was onto something when she settled you down with a hot water bottle as a child!