Heat therapy is a treatment used to help relieve pain and muscle stiffness. Heat therapy is commonly used to reduce long-lasting or chronic pain. There are many forms of heat therapy, including commercial heat packs, heating pads, and moist or dry heat packs. Your doctor may prescribe heat therapy in conjunction with other treatments, including cold, exercise, and massage therapy.
Heat therapy causes blood vessels in the treated areas to dilate or open wider. As a result, blood flow to the area is increased. Sore stiff muscles may relax and become more flexible. The increased blood flow may promote healing.
You may recieve heat therapy alone or in conjunction with other treatments. You may be provided with a treatment schedule and specific instructions to use at home. A heat pack or heating pad should be covered with a protective barrier, such as a towel and not come in direct contact with your skin. You may repeat heat treatments as instructed by your doctor.