General Hydrotherapy Applications, Temperatures, Effects of Hot and Cold
- Local Heat : Applying heat to specific areas of the body such as joints, chest, throat, shoulders, spine: use moist hot compress, hot water bottle, hot pack, heating pad, Thermophore.
- Local cold: Apply cold to specific area of the body; use cold compress, ice bag, ice pack, ice hat, frozen bandage.
- Cold compress that heats the body: A cold wet cloth that is in contact with the skin and then covered with a water resistant covering will create a physiological response that warms the body from within. This is called a cold double compress. It can be applied to any area of the body or the entire body.
- Tonic friction: Water sponging or washing combined with some form of friction on the skin produces a tonic effect on the body
- Sponging: Use alcohol, water or which hazel applied to a sponge to wash the body.
- Baths: Body is immersed in cold, hot or tepid water. Any part of the body may be bathed; arm bath, eye bath, finger bath, hand bath, foot bath.
- Showers: Many kinds of water streams can be directed against the body.
- Steam: Water particles dispersed through the air that affects the skin, lungs and air passages. Cold steam moistens dry rooms in winter and can help prevent colds and sinus headaches. Hot steam increases body temperature and perspiration to release toxins.
- Sauna: Dry heat which increases body temperature and increases perspiration; May put strain on nasal and lung passages.
- Shampoo: Soap and water used on one or all parts of the body
Temperatures for Hydrotherapy Treatments
|Degrees Fahrenheit||Description of Sensation||Sensation on forearm when immersed in
this water temperature
|Very cold||Pain and numbness|
|Cold||Sensation of coldness|
|Neutral||No sensation||body temp|
|Hot||Skin redness with prolonged immersion|
|Very Hot||Tolerable for a short time|
|Painfully Hot||Pain and possible tissue damage|
|Damaging||Pain and tissue damage|
Hydrotherapy Effects of Cold and Hot Water
|Primary Effect||Secondary Effect|
|Cold Water||-peripheral vascular constriction
-Pallor of skin, chilliness, shivering,
-Increases respiratory rate
-Increases muscular tone
-Increases blood pressure and heart rate
|Occurs if you warm up:
-Peripheral vascular dilation, causing redness of skin
-Decrease in respiratory rate
-Decrease in blood pressure and heart rate
|Hot Water||-Increases Body Temperature
-Increases Pulse rate (by 10 for every
1 degree increase in body temp)
-Increases respiration rate
-Increases oxygen consumption and metabolic
-Decreases blood pressure
-pH becomes more alkaline
-Increases in excretion from kidneys
|Generally the same as secondary effects
of cold; Gradual reduction of these effects as body returns to normal.
Reduces muscle spasm by breaking the pain-spasm-pain cycle.
Reduces spasticity when muscle temperature is reduced. Used to move muscles so that they can be reprogrammed to increase motor skills as in subacromial bursitis.
Relieves pain through its direct effect on nerve fibers and receptors
Reduces Inflammation in the early phase
Reduces swelling an edema in the acute phase
Secondary effect of cold is heat ad body restores normal temperature
Types of cooling:
Convective: blowing air over skin
Evaporative: removal of heat by using ethyl chloride sprays
Conductive: contact with cooled substances such as ice packs or compresses
Application times must be adjusted to reach the area to be treated. Ligaments need more time because of the depth and type of collagen fibers.
Times must be adjusted according to the size of the injured area, the nervous system sensitivity and the amount of adipose tissue present.
Start with a minimum of about 5 minutes and check to see how cold the area is.
It also depends on what source of cold you use- straight ice in zip-lock or gel packs.
Impaired or compromised circulation – diabetes, peripheral artery disease
Previous frostbite or other hypersensitivity to cold such as Raynaud’s disease or Lupus
Poor kidney function
Hypothyroidism – causes further reduction in basal metabolic rate
Advanced Cardiovascular disease because of increase in systolic blood pressure
Slows wound healing by slowing cell metabolism
Open wounds, rashes
Hypertension – may temporarily increase blood pressure
Very young or very old – may have impaired regulatory systems and limited communication
Cold allergy or sensitivity
Adverse Effects of Cold: burns when temperature is below 59 degrees F.
General Therapeutic effects of Heat:
- Increases the extensibility (ability to stretch) of collagen fibers
- Decreases chronic joint stiffness
- Increases range of motion
- Relieves pain
- Relieves muscle spasm
- Increases blood flow
- Can assist in removal of edema and waste products from areas of injury
Transmissions of Heat:
- Conduction: contact with warmed substances such as hot packs, paraffin
- Radiation: luminous and infrared lamps
- Conversion: Heat produced as energy from high frequency currents such as ultrasound; penetrates to deeper layers of body
- Joint contractures to stretch tendons and increase flexibility; Heat and stretch fibers
- Rheumatoid Arthritis- heat increases the viscosity of the synovial fluid in the joint. Heat and follow with ROM exercises
- Chronic muscle spasm
- Any acute inflammation such as bursitis, arthritis, tendonitis, sprains or strains
- Deep vein thrombosis
- impaired circulation or reduced sensation
- congestive heart failure
- acute injury, inflammation and edema
- Pregnancy – no immersion baths or hot packs to the abdomen
- Very young and very old may be unable to communicate
- Open wounds, rashes or previous burns
Adverse Effects of Heat
Burns – keep temeratures below 113 degrees, use insulation between the heated object and the skin, use heat packs that cool down.
Fainting – usually due to lack of blood and oxygen to the brain from peripheral vasodialation, change in body positions that cause a change in blood pressure.