Thermotherapy in the form of hydrocollator packs and Thermo-Stim, utilizes the primary physiological effects of heat including:
- Vasodilation and increased blood flow
- Increased metabolic rate
- Relaxation of muscle spasm
- Pain relief via the gate-control mechanism and reduced ischemia
- increased elasticity of connective tissue
Increasing local tissue temperature accelerates the healing process by dilating blood vessels to increase the oxygen and nutrient supply to the tissue. Heat is believed to have a pain relieving effect, while also producing a relaxing effect on muscle tone.
Cryotherapy in the form of Ice and Thermo-Stim, utilizes the primary physiological effects of cold including:
- Vasoconstriction and decreased blood flow (within first 15-20 minutes)
- Decreased metabolic rate
- pain relief with decreased muscle spasm via gate-control mechanism and decreased nerve conduction velocity
Restriction of local blood flow reduces the potential for edema (swelling) to develop. Slower metabolism releases fewer inflammatory mediators, reduces edema formation and decreases oxygen demand of tissues to minimize their chances of further injury from ischemia. Cold decreases local neural activity by depressing the excitability of free nerve endings, resulting in an increased pain threshold and reduced muscle spasm.