Thermotherapy is the therapeutic use of agents to heat or cool affected muscles or joints. Superficial heating helps with muscle relaxation, stretching, and passive range of motion by increasing the extensibility of fibrous tissue. It also increases blood flow to the affected area and aids in pain relief. This therapy is often used before therapeutic exercises and hydrotherapy. Cryotherapy, or cool therapy, is typically utilized after exercise to decrease pain, muscle spasms, and inflammation.
Thermotherapy is often combined with range of motion exercises, stretching, and massage. Range of motion and stretching exercises are passive movements used to improve normal joint flexion and extension maintaining flexibility of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These exercises are very important to prevent muscle contracture and scar tissue formation in a patient with limited or lack of mobility in an affected limb.
Therapeutic massage is used to increase blood flow to the affected area to improve healing, relieve pain, and decrease swelling and edema. It also helps break down scar tissue formation and can be used to treat both acute and chronic conditions. Massage often compliments other rehabilitation exercises to comfort and relax the patient.
All of these therapies are used in the clinical setting, but many can also be incorporated into an at-home rehabilitation program. At Up & Running Canine Rehabilitation, our CCRPs will demonstrate these techniques and teach you how they may be used to benefit your pet.