When pain medications fail or need a more long-term solution to your pain management, alternative pain management methods come into play. Using warm and cool temperatures to treat pain is one of the most common forms of drug-free pain management, and we use it constantly. From heating pads to ice baths, using temperature to relieve pain can come in many forms, but which is best? The answer: neither. To get the best pain relief, it is best to use hot and cold therapies for different situations.
Risks of Temperature Therapy
Before using temperature therapy, it is always essential to keep in mind that extreme temperatures can cause serious injury. In terms of “hot” and “cold” therapy, compresses and other items are not designed to cause burns. All hot items should be warm to the touch, and cold items cool to the touch.
In addition, extensive exposure to cool temperatures may cause nerve and tissue damage. When using cryotherapy in the form of ice baths and cold showers, keep an eye on the clock and have someone with you in case of emergency.
Heat therapy relies on warmth as a method of pain relief, which loosens tension in the muscles and improves blood flow. Heat therapy comes in two forms: dry and moist. In the form of heating pads, hot water bottles, and saunas, dry heat is quite accessible and easy to use for extended periods. On the other hand, Moist heat is excellent at penetrating deep into the muscles, allowing for, as some people may claim, better pain relief. Moist heat comes in the form of warm baths, wet towels, or moist heating pads.
While some people prefer moist heat to dry heat (and vice versa), both types of heat therapy are excellent ways to relieve long-term muscle and joint pain and cramps. It is most popular among those who experience chronic pain from periods, arthritis, or other complications as well.
Cold therapy, or cryotherapy, is best for reducing pain and swelling in localized areas of the body. Cryotherapy works by dulling nerve activity, which in turn not only reduces pain but makes the affected area less sensitive to it as well. In reducing swelling, cryotherapy can further relieve pain around joints.
Cryotherapy is most often used with sports injuries, joint pain, sprains, tendonitis, and swelling associated with other injuries.
Finding the proper treatment for your pain boils down to several questions:
- What kind of pain are you experiencing?
- Where is your pain located?
- Is an area swollen?
- Are you feeling too hot or too cold right now?
Of course, always ask your doctor if you are concerned about which form of pain relief to use. To browse more alternative methods of pain relief, visit Medical Supply Depot.