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Hot and cold therapy

Hot and cold therapy

The process of a contrast bath is a form of hydrotherapy that involves repeatedly dipping a limb in hot and cold water. This gets done at a specific rate, temperature, and time. The repeated switching between the two temperatures may cause constricting and dilating of blood vessels, leading to a pump effect. This is believed by some to increase circulation into tissues throughout your body. Even though this therapy is widely used, there is no specific protocol for how hot the water should be or how long it should take. Different professionals may use different timing and temperature to produce the best result. Also, the increase in blood flow may lead to oxygenation of blood (improving the healing process). It may also improve the transport of waste products (solving edema). More oxygenation occurs due to the hot water. Hot water is thought by some researchers to cause your hemoglobin (a protein in your blood involved in transporting oxygen) to get oxygen more efficiently into your tissues. Contrast bath therapy may be used on your:
  • Hands
  • Wrists
  • Forearms
  • Elbows
  • Feet
  • Knees
  • Ankle
  • Lower legs
Contrast bath therapy may be used on your:
  • Foot sprains
  • Ankle sprains
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Soft tissue trauma
What is hot and cold therapy?
Fast facts on cold and heat treatment: Cold treatment reduces inflammation by decreasing blood flow. Apply within 48 hours after an injury. Heat treatment promotes blood flow and helps muscles relax. Use for chronic pain. Alternating heat and cold may help reduce exercise-induced muscle pain.