Along with chiropractic adjustments, your suggested care regimen may also include various therapies designed to aid in your healing and pain reduction. Many therapies are drug-free ways to stimulate affected areas of the body and encourage self-healing. These therapies are often most effective when multiple treatments are administered and are done in conjunction with chiropractic adjustments and supportive lifestyle changes. If you are interested in seeing if chiropractic therapies are right for you, please contact our office!
Most people have used heat at one time to sooth normal aches and pains — such as the use of a hot bath, a heating pad or even an old-fashioned water bottle.
Even today, these types of heat therapy play an important role in chiropractic practice to increase circulation and relax the muscles. At the same time, heat therapy can help reduce pain.
Types of Heat Therapy
The types of heat therapy vary, from simple methods such as the use of warm wraps and heating pads to more advanced techniques such as the use of therapeutic ultrasound. All of these, though, are designed to relax muscles and promote healing.
Some of the most common heat therapies used by chiropractors include:
- Moist heat packs. These are applied over several layers of towels to prevent burning of the skin.
- Warm whirlpool bath. This technique involves a combination of immersion in heated water and massage from water jets; this may be combined with movements in the water.
- Paraffin bath. The hands, wrists, elbows, ankles or feet are dipped in paraffin wax to soothe chronic injuries.
- Fluidotherapy. This method is a dry technique, involving the use of hot air containing cellulose particles that is circulated over the skin.
Benefits of Heat Therapy
Heat has long been used for its healing and soothing benefits. But heat therapy may provide other benefits, such as:
- Increased blood flow
- Reduced inflammation
- Relief from muscle spasms
- Decreased stiffness in joints
- Pain relief
Heat therapy can also be used before other healing therapies, including stretching, exercise, massage and physical adjustments. The heat can increase how easily scar tissue or tight joints will move.
How Heat Therapy Works
Some muscle spasms are caused by a lack of blood flow to the tissues. Heat applied to the area can bring more blood to the tissues, along with extra oxygen and glucose needed by the cells.
Heat therapy also reduces inflammation and swelling by speeding up the activity of the cells, lowering the pH inside the cells and stimulating the release of helpful chemicals. These chemicals cause the blood vessels to widen, allowing more blood flow to the injured, inflamed or painful tissues.
Although heat therapy can improve many symptoms, some people may experience negative side effects after treatment. They may experience greater pain, achiness or stiffness. If you experience any of these symptoms, call us today and we may suggest other treatments.
Applying ice after an injury is a common method for reducing pain and swelling. It is especially effective for athletes, who often experience sudden, painful injuries. This type of cold therapy, also known as cryotherapy, is used by chiropractors for the same purposes.
Types of Cold Therapy
Many types of cold therapy are available to reduce pain and swelling after an injury, including the use of:
- Ice packs
- Ice massage
- Slush bucket (half water, half crushed ice)
- Whirlpool with ice water
- Cold wet towels
- Benefits of Cold Therapy
Cold temperatures cause blood vessels to narrow, which reduces the flow of blood into an area. As a result, cold therapy:
- Reduces swelling and pain after injury
- Slows movement of fluid into tissues
- Reduces the amount of chemicals that cause inflammation in injured tissue
- Reduces bleeding
- Slows the movement of pain signals from nerves
- Decreases muscle spasms by reducing the contraction of muscles
Cold therapy may also keep cells in the injured area from dying due to the lack of oxygen. This is because an injury can reduce blood flow — and oxygen — to the area. However, cold therapy slows the activity of cells, which reduces how much oxygen they need to stay alive.
Tips for Best Cold Therapy
For cold therapy to work, cold packs should be applied as soon as possible. Pain and inflammation are common within 72 hours after an injury.
To avoid frostbite, cold packs should be applied for only 10 minutes at a time, with breaks of at least an hour in between. The ice can be applied several times a day, for three or four days after an injury — or as directed by your chiropractor.
Also, cold packs should never be applied directly to the skin. Instead, a towel should be placed between the skin and cold pack.
Cold therapy may not be appropriate for everyone. Some people respond to cold temperatures by breaking out in hives or developing pain in the joints.
If you have questions about cold therapy or think you might benefit from this type of treatment, please contact our office to schedule an appointment and receive more information.