Moist and dry heat are the most common superficial heat therapy treatments. However, moist heat is more effective than dry heat in providing deeper penetration of the tissue at the same temperatures. Moist heat also has additional capacity to change the tissue temperature rapidly and obtain more vigorous response from temperature receptors. Patients often report greater relief of symptoms from moist heat. Moist heat can speed recovery by increasing blood flow to the targeted area. This increased circulation brings in fresh blood and takes away the wastes which may slow healing. Our Thera-Temp® Microwaveable Moist Heat Wraps produce moist heat by drawing moisture from humidity in the air and retaining it in therapeutic beads.
Comparison indicates that moist heat has many advantages over dry heat:
Heat or Moist Heat Therapy should be used for chronic conditions such as muscle discomfort or stiffness. For example, for some people, nothing soothes their back pain like a hot pack. In a 2002 study published in the medical journal Spine, investigators at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey concluded that the continuous application of low-level heat wrap therapy eased low back pain better than two common over-the-counter painkillers. Heat therapy can also be used before exercise to increase the flexibility of joints and to increase blood flow. (Note: You should not use heat therapy after exercise. Instead, use cold therapy.) Because heat therapy increases circulation and increases the skin temperature, it should not be used when there is any swelling or inflammation.
The best way to apply moist heat or heat is to alternate twenty minutes of heat therapy with a twenty minute break. Repeat this process for three to four times daily until stiffness and soreness decreases. It is important when using heat therapeutically to always have enough barrier between the skin surface and the heat pack to protect the skin.