Relieve Pain With Contrast Hydrotherapy
What is it? Contrast hydrotherapy is a gentle, do-it-yourself, cost-effective approach to include in your pain management plan. Switching from hot and cold temperatures quickly requires tissues to adapt, increases metabolic activity in the tissue, and induces a pumping mechanism in your blood vessels.
When heat is applied, your vessels dilate, allowing more blood flow into the area. When cold is applied, your vessels constrict, and blood flow is restricted. This pumping mechanism is very beneficial to the injured tissue as it brings nutrients, white blood cells, and inflammatory mediators to the area.
What is it used for? Used for osteoarthritis, muscle stiffness/recovery, repetitive strain injuries, sprains and strains (after 3 or 4 days), and for increasing circulation to particular areas.
When not to use it: Not to be used for acute injuries that are still swollen, hot, and/or red. Not to be used over open wounds. Not to be used in neuropathies or people with decreased temperature sensation.
Materials Needed for Contrast Hydrotherapy: Basin of ice water (as cold as you can stand it without freezing), basin of hot water (as hot as you can stand without burning), and towels if you are unable to submerge the particular problem area/joint of your body into the basin. You may want to be near a hot water source so you can make sure your water stays hot throughout the treatment by replenishing it as needed.
Water is preferred over electrical sources such as heating pads and ice packs.
How to do Contrast Hydrotherapy:
Always start with hot.
Submerge (dunk) the problem area/joint into the basin of hot water for 3-5 minutes.
When time is up, immediately switch to dunking the area into the basin of cold water. Leave in place for 30 seconds to one minute (not longer). This is one cycle. Repeat the cycle 3-5 times.
Always end with cold.
How often: For best results, 3-5 cycles (about 15 minutes) twice per day.