Hot Pack Application (Thermotherapy)
**Precautions should be taken to prevent burning of the skin and tissues. Always place heating pad on top of, and not underneath of, the body part you are treating (temperature of the heating pad increases if heat is trapped.) Limit treatment to no more than 30 minutes at a time.**
Heat therapy is helpful in reducing pain, muscle spasm and chronic inflammation. It provides warmth and relaxation to stiff muscles and joints. Heat increases blood flow to the injury area, accelerating healing and tissue extensibility.
Remove all clothing and jewelry from the area and ensure skin is dry and free of oils or ointments. Moist heat is deeper penetrating than dry heat. When using moist hot packs, wrap the hot pack in a towel, making sure 4-6 layers of toweling is between the pack and the skin. If using electrical heating pad, always use with cover over heating elements. Treatment time is 10-20 minutes.
Note: Do not use heat over rashes, sunburn or desensitized skin. If skin shows abnormal white patches intermixed with red blotchy areas, heat application should be discontinued.
Cold Pack Application (Cryotherapy)
**Precautions should be taken to prevent frostbite (superficial freezing of skin and tissue). Never keep a frozen gel pack on the skin longer than 20 minutes.**
Cold therapy is helpful in reducing pain, inflammation and muscle spasm. It slows local circulation, thereby decreasing nerve conduction speed and creating an analgesic (pain-relieving) effect.
Wrap the cold pack in a bath towel and place over target area. No part of the cold pack should directly touch the skin. Half way through the treatment, the cold pack may be turned over to help enhance the cooling process. Treatment time is 15-20 minutes.
Note: Inspect the skin when turning the cold pack. If a white area is present, cold treatment should be discontinued.