Physical Therapists wrap moist hot packs in several layers of towels. They are then applied directly on the exposed area that needs treatment. The heat provided by the hot packs has several important benefits.
It relaxes tight muscles causing tissues to relax. This decreases pain caused by muscle tension or spasms. It also causes vasodilatation of the blood vessels which increases circulation to the area. Patients with muscle strains, spasms, or arthritis often benefit from treatment with moist hot packs.
Cold packs are a frozen gel substance used by physical therapists to treat areas of pain and inflammation.
The cold packs are wrapped in wet towel and applied directly to the area in need of treatment. The cold transferred to the patient's skin, muscle and tissue has several beneficial effects.
The cold temperature causes vasoconstriction of the blood vessels in the area. This decreases the inflammation in the area. By decreasing inflammation, pain and swelling are decreased. This in turn decreases pain. Management with ice is the first line of treatment in acute injury.