The Benefits of Heat, Ice, Electricity and Other Treatment Options
There are many different way that a chiropractor can help alleviate your aches and pains. Most people think that spinal manipulations are the only treatments that a chiropractor has in his arsenal. While it is true that the art of chiropractic care is largely based on spinal manipulation and adjustments, there are many other treatment methods. A chiropractor knows the best way to help heal is by using the most effective treatment options.
Bring on the heat
Heat therapy is a common tool when treating sore and stiff muscles and joints. When muscles and joints are stiff and sore, they are more susceptible to injury. Heat therapy can help by warming the affected areas and loosening up the area that needs to heal. It can reduce stiffness, cramping and relieve pain. Heat therapy increases blood flow to the area and promotes faster healing. This type of therapy is most effective when used to treat non-inflammatory aches, pains, and injuries.
Relief from pain with heat therapy is two-fold. The first type of relief is the comfort that heat provides. The second form of relief from heat therapy comes from the physical effects of heating sore and stiff muscles. It's important to remember that heat therapy should only be used for 15-20 minutes at a time, giving the affected area time to recover in-between applications. Heat therapy is a great healer. That said, heat therapy increases blood flow to the heated area and can also cause injuries to worsen. So, be careful which injuries you are treating with heat.
Heat is great for:
- Soreness from overexertion.
- Stiff muscles and chronic aches.
- Arthritis and other related diseases that cause chronic pain.
- Sleep deprivation
- Other daily wear and tear, aches, and pains.
Avoid heat therapy for:
- Fresh wounds, especially if they are bleeding.
- Injuries that are swollen.
- Infected areas, if the skin is hot to the touch or sensitive
Ice is commonly use as a pain management tool. It can numb the area, alleviating pain. It's also useful to reduce swelling and inflammation by reducing blood flow to the area. The benefits of using ice are typically most effective during the first day or two after the injury occurs. Crushed ice, frozen peas and ice packs are a great pain-free way to get chilly, but should never be applied directly to the skin. A cloth, a pillow case, or towel between the skin and the ice is a great way to prevent damage like frostbite. Ice should be applied for 15-20 minutes at a time, allowing for the skin and muscle tissue to return to a normal temperature in between applications.
Ice effectively treats
- Spasms and cramping.
- Sprains, strains, and torn muscles.
- Everyday aches and pains.
Contrast therapy is the use of both hot and cold therapies. Switching back and forth from heat to cold temporarily alters the pain signals your brain is sending. This can be done with heat packs and ice or steam rooms and cold pools. There is still a lot of research that should be done regarding contrast therapy, and you should check with a physician before giving it a try.
Hot and cold therapy are a great drug-free way to ease your pain and speed up the healing process.
Electricity sounds like something you use to switch on a light or bring a fabled creature to life during a lightning storm. However, electricity is an amazing tool when healing the human body. Your brain sends out electric impulses that tell your muscles to move and contract. TENS units and other electricity delivery devices use the same sort of electric impulses to manipulate your muscles. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, more commonly known as TENS is typically performed with a TENS unit. The devices come in many different sizes and shapes, but the small, battery-operated devices all perform the same kind of therapy.
How does it work? A TENS unit typically runs off of a battery, and delivers low voltage stimulation through electrodes placed on the skin. Conductive gel is also used to increase the flow of electricity through the unit into your muscles. The electrodes are placed on or around the affected area and the unit is slowly turned up until the desired intensity is reached. Proper use of a TENS unit is not painful or uncomfortable. Many units will have a timer or preset modes to offer different massaging effects.
What does it do? The electric pulses produced by the TENS unit cause your muscles to contract and relax in a rhythmic manner. The effect of the pulses create a soothing massage sensation and helps to relieve soreness and muscle tension. There hasn't been a lot of research on TENS therapy, but it's been in use since the 1960's and there are many satisfied users.
Don't use a TENS unit:
- While you are driving
- If you have an open wound
- If there is a rash or skin irritation
- While sleeping
- In high humidity or where water is present. (TENS units run off of electricity after all, and electrical burns and injuries are possible if the unit is misused.)
Electric manipulations can have similar benefits to massage therapy. Electric impulses can be precise, timed and measured. If you suffer from any kind of illness or condition that requires medical care, be sure to consult with a physician before using TENS therapy.
Massage therapy is an ancient restorative tool used for centuries by humans to relieve aches and pains and promote relaxation. Massage therapy is the manual manipulation of soft tissue in the body. It can be performed on any part of the body from head to toe. Massage therapist that practice professionally are trained and licensed to help heal and relax.
Most people think of massage therapy as a luxury. While it's true that massages are typically a wonderful, relaxing experience, they can also do a lot more. The wonderful relaxed feeling you experience following a massage is caused by a release of endorphins in your brain. You will also experience a release of tension and anxiety in your muscles. The use of massage therapy to help heal joint pain is a great pain free boost to any treatment you receive from your chiropractor. According to consumer surveys, the reason that 67% of consumers get massages is for medical reasons. Massage therapy is a great tool to help relieve chronic pain, reduce stress levels, and help you sleep better.
Along with heat, ice, massage and electric therapies there are a couple of other therapeutic treatment options your chiropractor might employ. Your chiropractor may also encourage you to perform stretches or exercises and help you create a dietary management plan.