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Heat therapy can be a great choice for natural, accessible relief from pain caused by muscle tension and stress. For optimal results with heat therapy, it’s important that you understand how to use it safely and effectively. It’s also important that you choose the right kind of heat therapy for the type of pain you’re experiencing.
Pain Management with Heat
Use heat for relieving stiff joints or muscle discomfort. Heat opens blood vessels and increases blood flow, so it can help with range of motion in stiff muscles and joints, and make them feel loose and flexible again.
When using heat therapy, it's important to not apply a heating device directly to your skin. Always keep a thin layer of fabric or other material between your skin and the heating element to reduce the chance of burns. Apply it to the painful area for no longer than 20 minutes for best results. Sunbeam electric heating pads usually have an auto-off setting, so you can use the heat pad with peace of mind.
A good electric heating device usually has variable heat settings, so you can choose the heat level that's right for you. The heating pad should be just hot enough that it feels warm on your skin, but doesn't burn.
Sunbeam® GoHeat™ Cordless Heating Pad
Types of heat therapy and heating pads
1. Relieving back and spine pain
For upper back pain, Sunbeam Renue heating pads wrap your neck and shoulders and adjust to fit for direct relief from discomfort. For lower back pain relief, try the Sunbeam® Heated Back Wrap, which molds to the shape of your lower back. Or try Sunbeam GoHeat Patches: these pain relief patches gently adhere to painful areas of your back, and heat up via a portable battery pack, relieving pain as you go about your day.
Sunbeam® Neck Renue® Heat Wrap and Sunbeam® Heated Back Wrap
2. Treating joint pain
Find hot pads that let you apply direct heat to hard-to-reach areas. The Sunbeam® FlexTemp™ Hot + Cold Joint Wrap can provide targeted relief for ankle, knee joint, and elbow pain, wrapping around them so you feel the heat directly and ease achiness.
Sunbeam® FlexTemp™ Hot + Cold Joint Wrap
3. Relieving neck and shoulder pain
Wrap up in a hot pad that sits directly on your neck and shoulder blades, like Sunbeam® Neck Renue® Heat Wrap. These flexible hot pads adjust to fit snugly. Or try GoHeat Portable Heated Patches for relieving pain in this area.
Sunbeam® Neck Renue® Heat Wrap
4. Easing muscle pain and cramps
Hot pads and heat wraps can ease discomfort with soothing, direct heat. Sunbeam® Premium Heating Pad with XpressHeat® heat up in 30 seconds, so you can feel the heat fast; or try the FlexFit Heating Pad for direct heat in areas like arms, legs, wrists, ankles, and lower legs. An electric heating pad is also good for providing even and consistent heat.
Sunbeam® Premium Heating Pad with XpressHeat®
When should I use moist heat?
Moist heat can be especially soothing if you’re looking for deep, penetrating heat to soothe body aches. The Sunbeam® Premium Heating Pad with XpressHeat® and other Sunbeam heating pads offer a moist heat option, allowing you to safely spray them with water and then use the heating function.
What about cold therapy and ice packs?
Use cold therapy on swelling and bruising. The Sunbeam® FlexTemp™ Hot + Cold Joint Wrap offers a cold therapy option with a freezable gel ice pack, to ease elbow pain, knee pain, and more. Cold temperatures restrict blood vessels, which can help reduce inflammation. As with heat, don't apply ice for longer than 20 minutes, don’t apply ice directly to skin, and never leave ice on one area for too long. Remove the cold pack after 20 minutes, and wait at least 10 minutes before reapplying. Ice and cold packs should be applied within the first day or two of discomfort to help with inflammation.
Don't use hot or cold therapy in place of medical help
If you've injured yourself badly, or even if you're not sure, it's important to get checked by a physician before trying hot or cold therapy on your own. Your doctor will be able to advise on how to properly alternate between heat and cold. Hot or cold therapy can help you feel more comfortable, but shouldn't take the place of other forms of treatment. Check with your doctor if you suspect a more serious issue.
This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Be sure to consult with your physician if you experience any pain or discomfort.