Thermotherapy (Heat Application):
There are two types of thermotherapy: superficial and deep. Methods for providing superficial heat include moist hot packs, fluidotherapy, whirlpool, and paraffin (warm wax). Superficial heating agents elevate the skin temperature and tissue within 1 to 2 cm of the skin surface. These agents are usually applied for 15 to 20 minutes. Methods for providing deep heat include ultrasound and diathermy. Deep heating agents elicit heat production in deep tissue to depths of 3 cm or more and are usually applied for 5 to 15 minutes. The purpose of applying heat is usually to promote healing, decrease pain and relax muscles through increased blood flow. Indications for heat modalities are subacute or chronic inflammatory conditions, muscle spasms or guarding, and joint contractures and decreased range of motion.