Heat Therapy

ExitCare ImageHeat therapy can help ease achy, tense, stiff, and tight muscles and joints. Heat should not be used on new injuries. Wait at least 48 hours after the injury before using heat therapy. Heat also should not be used for discomfort or pain that occurs right after doing an activity. If you still have pain or stiffness 3 hours after finishing the activity, then heat therapy may be used.

PRECAUTIONS

High heat or prolonged exposure to heat can cause burns. Be careful when using heat therapy to avoid burning your skin. If you have any of the following conditions, do not use heat until you have discussed heat therapy with your caregiver:

  • Poor circulation.

  • Healing wounds or scarred skin in the area being treated.

  • Diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure.

  • Numbness of the area being treated.

  • Unusual swelling of the area being treated.

  • Active infections.

  • Blood clots.

  • Cancer.

  • Inability to communicate your response to pain. This can include young children and people with dementia.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

Moist heat pack

  • Soak a clean towel in warm water, and squeeze out the extra water. The water temperature should be comfortable to the skin.

  • Put the warm, wet towel in a plastic bag.

  • Place a thin, dry towel between your skin and the bag.

  • Put the heat pack on the area for 5 minutes, and check your skin. Your skin may be pink, but it should not be red.

  • Leave the heat pack on the area for a total of 15 to 30 minutes.

  • Repeat this every 2 to 4 hours while awake. Do not use heat while you are sleeping.

Warm water bath

  • Fill a tub with warm water. The water temperature should be comfortable to the skin.

  • Place the affected body part in the tub.

  • Soak the area for 20 to 40 minutes.

  • Repeat as needed.

Hot water bottle

  • Fill the water bottle half full with hot water.

  • Press out the extra air. Close the cap tightly.

  • Place a dry towel between your skin and the bottle.

  • Put the bottle on the area for 5 minutes, and check your skin. Your skin may be pink, but it should not be red.

  • Leave the bottle on the area for a total of 15 to 30 minutes.

  • Repeat this every 2 to 4 hours while awake.

Electric heating pad

  • Place a dry towel between your skin and the heating pad.

  • Set the heating pad on low heat.

  • Put the heating pad on the area for 10 minutes, and check your skin. Your skin may be pink, but it should not be red.

  • Leave the heating pad on the area for a total of 20 to 40 minutes.

  • Repeat this every 2 to 4 hours while awake.

  • Do not lie on the heating pad.

  • Do not fall asleep while using the heating pad.

  • Do not use the heating pad near water. Contact with water can result in an electrical shock.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have blisters, redness, swelling, or numbness.

  • You have any new problems.

  • Your problems are getting worse.

  • You have any questions or concerns.

If you develop any problems, stop using heat therapy until you see your caregiver.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.