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Thermotherapy – Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

General information about thermotherapy

Definition: What is thermotherapy?

There are two different approaches in thermotherapy: The heat and the cold therapy.

During these applications, the body is treated with heat or cold temperature in order to

During these applications, the body is supplied with heat and cold in order to alleviate various complaints. Thermotherapy is one of the physical therapies. The goal is to evoke, with different external stimuli, a natural reaction of the body. You can learn more about this in our thermotherapy guide.

How does thermotherapy work?

The metabolism is stimulated by the heat supplied and slowed down by the cold temperature. This accelerates the healing processe and relieves pain. Specific temperature stimuli have an effect on the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for body temperature, blood pressure or metabolism, for example.

How is thermotherapy performed?

Thermotherapy can be applied selectively or to the whole body through the skin.

How often and how long can I use thermotherapy?

This depends on the type of application and must be answered individual. If applied correctly, you can use hot-water bottles, thermocompresses or thermopillows as often as you need them. You can read how exactly you can use the compresses and pillows in our thermotherapy guide.

Thermotherapy and TENS

Why is thermotherapy in combination with TENS pain therapy even more effective?

The TENS stimulation current therapy works similar to the thermotherapy. It can increase the blood circulation, relax muscles and release pain-inhibiting messenger substances, called endorphins. The pain signals are blocked. Therefore, a heat or cold application with a subsequent TENS treatment could be twice as effective. In order for you to really benefit from transcutaneous nerve stimulation, you need a stimulation current device and electrodes suitable for the respective body part. We recommend a duration of 40 minutes for a TENS treatment. But always listen to your body feeling. Find more information about TENS in combination with thermotherapy in our thermotherapy-guide and in our magazine.


What is the effect of heat therapy?

The heat relaxes the muscles. Oxygen transport and nutrient absorption are increased and degradation products are released more quickly. Pain can be alleviated by this increase in metabolism. The increased release of messenger substances accelerates the healing process. The immune system can also be strengthened by the applied heat.

The heat supply:

  • relaxes and loosens the muscles,
  • improves the elasticity of the connective tissue,
  • increases the blood circulation,
  • lowers high blood pressure,

  • increases the metabolism,

  • ensures more flexible joints.

How does heat therapy work?

The heat is applied by radiation, ultrasound waves, air, water, pads or heat packs.

There are different possibilities of application:

  • Covers, wraps and packs, e.g. hot water bottles, heat pillows, warm compresses, fango packs or the hot roll,
  • saunas,

  • Ultrasound treatments,

  • Massages e.g. Hot Stone Massage,

  • Infrared irradiation,

  • Full and partial baths e.g. mud baths.

Indications of heat therapy: When do heat stimuli help me?

Use the heat treatment for older or chronic complaints. Acute inflammations are aggravated by the application of heat.

You can apply the heat to:

  • Diseases of the musculoskeletal system in a chronic stage,
  • arthrosis,

  • Bechterew's disease (chronic inflammatory disease),

  • Muscle tensions,

  • Chronic painful or inflammatory processes,

  • Restlessness and nervousness,

  • hypertension,

  • Lumbago,

  • high blood pressure,

  • Myogeloses (hardening of the muscles - hard tension),

  • Myalgia (localized muscle pain),

  • Headache,

  • Slipped disc,

  • Strained muscles,

  • Menstrual cramps.

However, you should always talk to your doctor before you start the heat application.

Contraindication of heat therapy

You should refrain from heat treatment in the following cases:

  • in acute inflammatory processes such as a flu-like infection or acute joint inflammation,

  • a severely limited cardiac system,

  • stress-dependent cardiac arrhythmias,

  • severe untreated high blood pressure,

  • a severe untreated hyperthyroidism,

  • tumor diseases,

  • for severe general diseases.

Cold therapy

What does the cold therapy do?

The application of cold temperature has two different effects on the muscles. If it is applied only shortly, the muscle tenses up. If it is applied for longer, the muscles loosen and relax. The cold temporarily blocks the pain receptors, and therefore you feel less pain.

How does the cold therapy work?

In the therapy, the body is cooled by air, water, gas or pads.

This includes:

  • Wraps and pads e.g. cooling compresses,

  • Cold sprays,

  • Ice massage,

  • Treatments with cold water, e.g. water treading, partial baths, cold casts,

  • Cold chambers.

Indications for cold therapy: When do cold stimuli help me?

Cold applications can help with acute pain and discomfort, as with:

  • sprains

  • Contusions,

  • Crushes,

  • swellings,

  • Bruises,

  • Bursitis,

  • Tendinitis,

  • the inflammatory phase in rheumatic diseases,

  • the reduction of fever.

However, consult your doctor before you start the cold treatment.

Contraindication of cold therapy

If you suffer from a circulatory or sensory disorder, you should refrain from cold treatment. Cold treatment is also not recommended if you have low blood pressure, are underweight or have an underactive thyroid gland.