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Heat Therapy

Heat therapy is a type of physiotherapy with direct application of a hot pack or hot towel over an affected area for about 15 to 20 minutes, usually 2 to 3 times a day.


Heat application increases the temperature and improves circulation of the applied area with the followings effects:

  • Reduce swelling
  • Relieve pain
  • Relax muscles and soft tissues
  • Improve flexibility
  • Hasten recovery
  • Hasten recovery


Chronic musculoskeletal pain (there should not be acute inflammation)
(For example, back and neck pain, chronic knee pain, muscle pain, etc.)


The temperature of the hot pack should be comfortably warm, not "the hotter the better". If you have heart disease or hypertension, it is advisable to consult your doctor or physiotherapist before application. If there is any discomfort during the application, stop immediately. Seek medical advice in case of doubt.


Heat application is not suitable for the following conditions:
Acute inflammation

  • Dermatitis
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Open wound
  • Skin sensation impairment (e.g. some diabetic patients)
  • Severe cognitive impairment (e.g. dementia patients)

After application:

After heat application, it is usual to have temporary redness of the applied area. If there is persistent rash, pain or severe discomfort result, seek medical advice.


Heat therapy is useful especially when combined with adequate rest, proper care, correct posture and supplementary exercise. It can help to speed up the recovery of many painful conditions. If in doubt, seek advice from a physiotherapist or health staff.