What Are the Benefits of Moist Heat Therapy?

Sonal Panse

Moist heat therapy is a heat treatment that involves applying a moist heat to an affected area in order to bring about relief from the pains and aches caused by sports injury, tendon injury, muscle injury, muscle strain, sore muscles, and painful joints. It is also useful in treating conditions like arthritis, bursitis and migraine. Thermotherapy helps to increase circulation, and this in turn can bring about relaxation in muscles, joints and soft tissue, leading to pain relief and, in some cases, speedy healing.

Taking a hot shower can be a form of moist heat therapy.
Taking a hot shower can be a form of moist heat therapy.

This heat therapy makes use of a moist heating pad or a moist heat pack, which can be purchased in stores selling heat therapy products, as well as regular household items like towels, napkins and compresses. These items only need to be dipped in hot water and placed over the aching area. Taking a hot shower or soaking in a hot bath is also a form of moist heat therapy. In all cases, it is important to know and follow correct therapeutic guidelines.

Some electric heating pads come with a moist option.
Some electric heating pads come with a moist option.

For instance, whether a pad or a shower is used to provide the moist heat, the temperature should be comfortably warm, not boiling hot. This ensures that there is no risk of burning the skin. The heat application should preferably be restricted to a duration of about 15 minutes or 30 minutes at the most, not longer. If more heat treatment is required, it should be carried out in intervals, allowing the skin, tissues and muscles to cool down in between. If there is a persistent redness in the skin, the treatment should be withheld for a while.

Soaking in a hot bath is a type of moist heat therapy.
Soaking in a hot bath is a type of moist heat therapy.

Moist heat therapy does not draw moisture from the skin, so there are no issues of developing any dry skin problems from using it. It is not advisable to go for this treatment if there happen to be any existing skin problems like dermatitis. Since moist heat therapy tends to increase blood flow, it is also not to be used on open wounds, bruises and swollen muscles. In case of injuries, it is best to avoid any heat application for at least the first three days.

Moist heat therapy can help relax muscles and soothe migraine headaches.
Moist heat therapy can help relax muscles and soothe migraine headaches.

Moist heat therapy is also not recommended for people who have any serious heart-related or diabetic disorders. It should not be used in conjunction with oils or balms that are formulated to provide a warm relief. As with most types of health treatments, it is best to consult a qualified physician beforehand and make sure that this treatment will benefit rather than aggravate a particular health issue.

Moist heat therapy may help relieve tension in muscles.
Moist heat therapy may help relieve tension in muscles.
Towels may be used for heat therapy.
Towels may be used for heat therapy.
Moist heat therapy may be beneficial to someone who is experiencing neck aches.
Moist heat therapy may be beneficial to someone who is experiencing neck aches.

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Discussion Comments

Wisedly33

I have had lower back spasms since I was a teenager (cause unknown), and moist heat seems to give me the most relief. I've tried different things, but something about moist heat just makes those spasms unclench. It really makes me wish I had a hot tub. They do have their uses, and muscle therapy is one of the best ones, in my opinion. They're not just a luxury item -- they have an actual function! I don’t know why hot water works when nothing else will, but that’s sometimes the case. I guess that’s why hydrotherapy is so popular with athletes.

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