Heat therapy, also called thermotherapy, is the use of heat in therapy, such as for pain relief and health. It can take the form of a hot cloth, hot water bottle, ultrasound, heating pad, hydrocollator packs, whirlpool baths, cordless FIR heat therapy wraps, and others. It can be beneficial to those with arthritis and stiff muscles and injuries to the deep tissue of the skin. Heat may be an effective self-care treatment for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
An Early HistoryThe early history of heat therapy, when it was used for a number of reasons, can be traced back thousands of years to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. According to a paper published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information in the United States National Library of Medicine, early physicians used the sun's rays for the purpose of heat therapy. The practice dates back to 500B.C. when Egyptian physicians applied specific rules for sun and heat therapy. Thermal baths, mud baths and hot air caverns linked to volcanic sources were all common practices. It was also found that hot water, steam and sand were used to treat muscle spasms and pains. During this time, heat therapies were used to cure illness and disease and treat fever and skin conditions as well.
Heat Therapy and FeversThe natural method of heat therapy continued through the ages. It was widely believed that if a patient broke out in a violent sweat, he was considered cured. The Native Americans used hot vapor baths to treat fevers, and to heal arthritis, neuritis, and rheumatism as well. Although at the time they did not distinguish between the various conditions, they turned toward the power of heat with sweat baths to heal each type of ailment. This practice continues to remain a part of their culture today.
Heat Therapy TodayToday, the Arthritis Foundation believes that using natural heat and cold therapy to relieve pain is the two simplest, but most effective, treatments for arthritis and swelling. However, this isn’t limited to those with chronic muscle and joint pain. People of all ages, shapes and sizes can benefit from heat treatment, even the healthiest and most active people. In fact, warming up before exercise will make your body more flexible.
Heat increases circulation in the body and helps transport nutrients to joints and muscles. If you feel muscle fatigue and joint stiffness, the old but effective method is to soak in a hot bath or a warm vortex to relieve tension and pain. Using a hot compress, such as a heating pad, while massaging the area, can also soothe the stiff body parts. Most importantly, this method of relaxing muscles, increasing blood flow, and promoting comfort and relaxation is natural.
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