Heat is one of the oldest treatments: it calms and relaxes, increases metabolic processes, improves blood circulation, stimulates the immune system and relieves pain. Just as diverse as the effects of heat are their applications. "The simplest method is to wrap the body in warm cloths, and cereal and cherry stone cushions heated in the oven or in the microwave have proven themselves, " explains Helga Freyer, physiotherapist.
Heat for pain
In acute back pain, tension and painful joints swear many victims to the hot role: Several guest towels are rolled one after the other so that a funnel is formed.
In this funnel is given about one liter of hot water. The towels are then placed on the painful area and unrolled from outside to inside. Thus, heat can always penetrate from the outside to the inside.
Mud packs and hot baths
Packs and baths with peloids (Greek "pelos" = "mud"), such as moor, fango or mud have also for many years a great importance in the treatment of pain. They are suitable for treating individual areas of the body or as body wraps.
Infrared light is often used for inflammation of the sinuses or middle ear infections. Sometimes ultrasound is also used. Ultrasound generates the warming of the tissue by mechanical vibrations.
But how does heat work?
The body regulates its temperature through complicated mechanisms. When the outside temperature is low, the body tries to reduce the heat loss by throttling the blood flow. Hands and feet then feel cold. If, on the other hand, heat is supplied from outside, the blood supply to the skin and other tissues increases.
The promotion of circulation also leads to an increase in metabolic processes. The tissues are better supplied with oxygen and nutrients. Metabolic end products are transported away faster. "The immune system is also stimulated, " says the physiotherapist. Due to the improved circulation, immune cells reach the affected tissue more quickly. Heat also relieves tension in the muscles, promotes stretchability of tendons and ligaments, and relieves pain.
Not for inflammation!
Although warmth has many positive effects on pain relief, caution is advised. Heat is not effective in every form of pain. "Heat that causes inflammation can be just the wrong remedy because heat can promote inflammation, " warns Freyer. Anyone who is unsure about whether heat therapy makes sense should discuss this with a doctor.