Used for centuries in rehabilitation and whole body healing, contrast hydrotherapy works to relieve chronic pain, stiffness, inflammation, soreness, and areas of the body that have not healed after substantial time following an injury or illness. Contrast hydrotherapy is the alteration of hot and cold water on the body.
At Southwest Spine and Pain Center, we recommend patients use conservative treatment to manage their chronic pain condition before ever using invasive therapies. Sometimes, this means thinking outside of the box and using alternative medicine including acupuncture and tai chi. Patients at any of our four Utah Centers are encouraged to take the reigns of their treatment, and ask our providers about at-home therapies that can be effective in ramping up their recovery. One of these therapies may be contrast hydrotherapy.
The alteration between hot water and cold water is feasible, safe, and can be effective in injury recovery when it is done right. The purpose of this treatment is to force tissues to adjust to extreme temperatures, stimulating metabolic and circulatory activity. Previously injured tissues are required to “workout” essentially.
While contrast hydrotherapy will not heal a chronic condition or injury, patients can certainly reap the short-term benefits of the process. We do remind patients to use extreme caution with water temperatures. Avoid contrasting fresh injuries that are still swollen. Extreme heat can irritate inflammatory processes, prolonging the injury even further.
Typically, contrast hydrotherapy is used to manage many musculoskeletal injuries, more commonly repetitive injuries to the limbs. People who suffer from plantar fasciitis, shin splints, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, and Achilles tendinitis can certainly reap the benefits of the safe chronic pain treatment.
For the therapy, the process usually goes as follows:
- 3 minutes of heating: comfortably hot
- 1 minute of cooling
- Repeat 3 times, increasing heat and decreasing the cold temperatures slightly each time.
- End the cycle with cold water
Contrast hydrotherapy should be used under the discretion of your Southwest Spine and Pain physician. If you are already using or wish to use this therapy, talk to any of our esteemed providers for recommendations.
If chronic pain is impacting your life, don't wait to schedule an appointment at Southwest Spine and Pain Center. With three locations and growing, the pain management specialists at Southwest Spine and Pain Center are dedicated to helping those who suffer from chronic pain live the life they want to! To schedule an appointment, visit our locations tab!
The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.
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