Heat therapy should be applied for 20 - 30 minutes in the form of hot water bottles, a warm damp towel, heat rub or commercially available heat pads. If using something such as a hot water bottle, ensure a suitable layer of protection is placed over the skin to prevent burns.
In general heat should be used to treat chronic injuries, to help relax tight, aching muscles and joints, increase elasticity of ligaments and tendons and increase the blood flow to the area. Heat therapy can also be used prior to exercise in chronic injuries to warm the muscles and increase flexibility.
Chronic injuries usually do not present with a sudden onset. They tend to gradually build up over a period of days, weeks or longer and are often caused by overuse or biomechanical abnormality. A chronic injury can also be caused by an acute injury which fails to heal due to a lack of, or inappropriate treatment.
The only time ice should be used on chronic injuries is after exercise, to reduce any residual swelling.
This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.