Heat and ice or hot and cold therapy is a type of pain management that should be implemented only when given the go-ahead by your treating physician. This is because certain vascular conditions can worsen with this treatment.

While heat helps to soothe stiff and painful joints, increases blood flow, and relaxes the muscles that surround the joints, cold temperatures numb pain and reduce inflammation by decreasing blood flow and so stop the infiltration of reactive proteins that are released when tissues are damaged.

Combined hot and cold therapy is a proven aid for the pain caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and all types of joint pain including that of the back and neck. These are often the results of the ageing process or excessive use of one or more joints either through continuous strenuous exercise, lack of use or significant weight gain.

Singular hot or cold therapy depends on the type and source of the pain. Stiff joints should not be treated with cold, for example. Cold or ice treatment is usually recommended for sudden pain with inflammation or swelling; heat treatments are more commonly advised for muscle and joint pain and stiffness. For those where both types are advised, rotation between hot and cold for periods of 10 minutes with a break between to allow the skin to return to its usual colour is recommended.

Those suffering from pain in the extremities – the wrists, fingers and feet – may want to consider a heated paraffin bath, warmed to a comfortable heat by a heated paraffin wax machine. Other methods of heat application are cherry-pit cushions or other microwaveable heat cushions, electric blankets and heated cuffs for joints and muscles. Alternate heat application with one of our selection of anatomically shaped gel packs that can be kept in the refrigerator or freezer for months or years on end. We also supply passive cold compression therapy or cryanalgesia cuffs for knee, shoulder, ankle, elbow, neck and wrist joints that control swelling and perhaps speed up the healing process.

Newer moist heat therapy equipment produces deeper penetrating heat through the use of ceramic beads that also absorb moisture from the air and radiate heat and water into the treated area. This occurs without the pad ever feeling wet or damp. Although we have single-use cold packs that can be kept in the family first-aid kit, most of our heat and cold therapy aids are reusable with washable covers for easy cleaning and are good for multiple daily applications and years of use.

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