Treating Your Pain with Heat Therapy

Treating Your Pain with Heat Therapy

Millions of Americans live with chronic pain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 20% of American adults were living with chronic pain in 2019. Of those, 7% reported “high impact” pain that affected their ability to fully participate in social activities and work obligations. 

Back pain is the most common type of pain in the US, but everything from joint pain to shoulder and knee pain can interfere with your quality of life and everyday activities. Whether you’re suffering from acute or chronic pain from an injury, accident, or illness like osteoarthritis, we can help. 

Our team of orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine doctors offer a range of pain management and orthopedic services at our office in The Woodlands, Texas.

How does heat therapy work?

Heat therapy soothes and relaxes tense and injured muscles by increasing blood flow and circulation to the target area. If you’ve ever applied a heating pad to relieve muscle cramps or booked a session in a steam room or sauna to soothe aching muscles after an intense workout or stressful day, you’re already familiar with a general form of heat therapy. 

Heat therapy is also applied in clinical settings through lasers and ultrasound. Depending on the underlying cause, location, and severity of your pain, we may recommend heat therapy as part of a comprehensive pain management plan that includes other treatments like physical therapy and medication. 

When is heat therapy recommended for pain treatment?

Heating and cooling sore and injured muscles are a standard part of at-home care when you’ve strained a muscle or are experiencing pain from an accident or injury. Heat therapy is preferable to icing in some cases depending on the type of injury. 

If you have swelling and inflammation, icing works best because the cold slows down blood flow. Heat and cold therapy can be used interchangeably in many cases, such as general stiffness and pain in your joints. If you have underlying health problems like diabetes or vascular disease, ask our team before using heat therapy at home. 

When should you see a doctor for your pain?

Short term aches and pains are normal, especially as you get older or as you recover from an injury. In general, you should schedule an appointment if your pain lasts for more than a week and doesn’t respond to self-care and at-home treatments. If you have moderate to severe pain after an accident or injury, or you have additional symptoms like fever, nausea and vomiting, or signs of an infection, it’s best to seek medical attention right away.

When in doubt, schedule an appointment to determine the underlying cause of your pain. Pain might be common, but it shouldn’t be ignored or accepted as a normal part of life.

For more information about heat therapy and other pain management treatments available at The Woodlands Sports Medicine Centre, contact us today to schedule an appointment at our clinic in The Woodlands, Texas.

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