Thermal or Heat Therapy has been used for the treatment of aches and pains such as those of arthritis for many years. It can be applied as either dry or moist heat for a specified amount of time to an affected area. Some sources readily available to you are a heating pad, hot water bottle, heat packs or something as relaxing as a soak in a hot bath.
One really nice attribute of Thermal Therapy is that it is inexpensive and can be done in the comfort of your own home. Whether you have or have not been experiencing pain, you may have realized that soaking in a hot tub at home or enjoying a sauna is both relaxing and rejuvenating. It relaxes your muscles, clears your pores of toxins and dilates your blood vessels to improve circulation.
In the same principle when heat is applied to painful joints or chronic painful areas it increases the blood flow to these areas bring oxygen rich blood to help alleviate pain, relax the muscle tissues and help heal these areas. Heat increases core body temperature and enhances metabolism while also increasing energy consumption.
There are now many types of clothing on the market that can provide thermal therapy. They naturally enhance blood circulation and relax the muscles which they cover. There are gloves for use on arthritic hands, vests for back pain and even socks for those who suffer from diabetic neuropathies.
There have been studies in which patients suffering from depression were treated with infrared lights, saunas and application of thermal blankets. Improvement was shown in areas of sleep, appetite and concentration. Mild weight loss was noted but attributed to water loss from perspiration and replenished in order to prevent dehydration.
Thermal therapy is not used to treat every type of pain. For instance, never apply heat to a new injury especially is it is noted to be swelling. You may want to consult your physician to determine whether your particular diagnosis would benefit from heat therapy. Unless otherwise directed by your physician, do not apply heat for more than 20 to 30 minutes at a time. Those who have impaired circulation or decreased sensations in their extremities should take extra care with heat application. Diabetics do not often realize the amount of heat is too hot and can experience burns to the skin.