Cold and heat therapy are two pain relief strategies that are easy to use, economical and effective, and there are reasons to have both options on hand. A cold pad or ice pack is usually the first step after an injury to prevent or stop swelling and inflammation—that’s why a twisted ankle is usually iced as soon as it happens. Heat is usually used to soothe an area some time after the initial injury has occurred. A hot pad helps in increasing circulation and flexibility, which is why it feels so good on stiff joints and achy muscles and may help before you exercise. There are many options for delivering hot and cold therapy, some low-tech, like the old-fashioned hot water bottle, some high-tech and customized to where you need relief most.
Electric Heating Pads
There are many ways to deliver heat therapy, and the simple standard is a heating pad. The Dry Electric Heating Pad has a simple 14” by 12” surface with a removable, washable cover—you simply plug it in and apply it over the area needing heat.
Moist Heating Pads
Some people find that their pain responds better to a moist heating pad with similar soothing to that of a hot shower. Look for a pad that produces moist heat automatically. With the Theratherm Digital Moist Heating Pad in a longer shoulder-neck size of 20” by 23”, moisture is drawn from humidity in the air and held in the outer flannel cover. There’s also a digital hand control that lets you program and monitor both the temperature and treatment time. You can choose temperatures between 88 and 166 degrees F and treatment times between 1 and 60 minutes.
Infrared Heat Therapy
Far-infrared heat stimulates peripheral blood vessels to improve circulation and help bring oxygen to joints and extremities, which can speed the healing of sprains and strains, relieving pain and reducing recover time after an injury. The Therasage Far-Infrared Heat Therapy Healing Pad features far-infrared heat negative ions and natural jade. When the jade is heated, it emits far-infrared heat that penetrates deep into your body as much as two to three inches below the skin.
Microwaveable Heat Pads
For safety when you don’t want to use an electric heating pad, heat pads that get hot in the microwave and don’t need to be plugged in while using are a treatment option. Look for reusable heat pads like Microwaveable Moist Neck Heating Pad with MicroBeads. When heated, the MicroBeads release retained moisture providing therapeutic moist heat. The MicroBeads come stitched into a soft fabric, designed to allow the maximum release of moisture and are shaped to fit the body's contours. They won’t rupture, leak or dry out. Designed to offer safety and convenience, after treatment, the beads absorb moisture back from the air, ready to be used again.
One Time Relief
Disposable heat pads and patches offer instant heat therapy without any equipment or power source needed. Beyond BodiHeat Neck, Shoulder, and Wrist Pain Relief is a fast acting heat pad that you apply directly to your skin for up to 6 hours of pain relief. Each disposable, single use pad is odorless and measures 5” x 5.5” so you can pinpoint soothing heat directly where you need it the most.
Body Shaped Pads
Most heat treatment options are available in shapes that conform to the bodyparts that need soothing, such as shoulders, neck, back and hands. The Bed Buddy Naturals Plush Neck & Hand Wrap is a great design that soothes neck and shoulders plus has warm pockets for hand therapy. The heat lasts up to an hour and it can be used over and over. The plush cover is removable and washable.
Icing or applying cold to a sprain needs to happen right away, so it’s smart to keep cold packs ready to go in the freezer. Ice It! packs freeze quicker, maintain low temperatures longer and stay flexible when frozen to mold around painful areas for the most therapeutic benefit. The Comfort-Flex elastic strap secures the system and provides customized compression, so you can move about with it in place if you need to. The plush Stay-Put cover is fully removable for machine wash and dry. Designs are available to suit different bodyparts—there’s a 12” by 13” knee system, a 10.5” by 13” ankle/elbow/foot system and a 13” by 16” shoulder system.
Hot & Cold Pads In One
Some packs can provide your choice of cold and heat therapy. Therapod Thermal Relief offers moist heat therapy on one side to relax stiffness, improve flexibility and relieve pain and cold compress therapy on the other for swelling and inflammation. An adjustable, hands-free strap lets you attach it for a comfortable, secure fit.