Complaints of chronic pain, including joint pain, back pain and muscle soreness, are growing as America ages. Concurrently the FDA has issued consumer warnings regarding overuse of OTC internal analgesics for pain relief. The result has produced a growing consumer demand for new, safer, more effective and easier to use external analgesics.
New counter irritant patches and sleeves have successfully capitalized on these new demands. The product ingredients however aren’t new, the patches only cover a small area, offensive odors remain and pain is not relieved but rather masked by irritating the skin. Used daily these patches can cause painful skin breakdown.
One group of products garnering renewed interest is heat and cold therapy or in medical terms thermal analgesic products1, 2. Both moist heat and cold treatments are used clinically and are safe for use with most OTC and prescription drugs. Heat and Cold treatments are again becoming popular analgesic modalities for home use.
Unfortunately many thermal analgesic products in drug stores employ decades old technologies. As a result many are unsafe, ineffective and difficult to use. This is now changing as better-informed consumers begin demanding better products for chronic pain.
Air activated low-level heat wraps offer one new option for effective chronic pain relief. There are no side effects or contra indications and they are safe to use with or as an alternative to internal analgesics. The new air activated heat wraps (both brand, generic and store brand versions) are now stocked in the First Aid and internal analgesic section alongside aspirins, ibuprofens and acetaminophens. Worn for eight-hours these disposable heat wraps deliver a very low level of dry heat. They take over an hour to begin working and require special warnings for users over 55. If not used properly they cause skin breakdown and burns. Annual cost of use for chronic pain can become unaffordable for many consumers.
Most medical professionals still prefer and recommend moist heat over dry heat because it penetrates deeply into the area being treated and relief begins immediately. A twenty-minute moist heat treatment from thermal analgesic products increases blood flow, flushes away pain causing chemicals and relaxes tight aching muscles.
The THERMALON brand of moist heat thermal analgesic products feature a variety of wraps, pads and compresses, that when activated in the microwave, deliver effective moist heat therapy. These reusable products are safe, easy to use and provide clinically proven chronic pain relief. Naturally hydrating Hydro Pearls deliver timed-release therapy and “clean” odor free moist heat. THERMALON Moist Heat products can be found at Walgreens, CVS, Supercenters and other fine retailers.
Learn more at thermalon.com/microwave-heating-pad.php.
1 Clinical guidelines in the U.S. recommend the use of self-administered topical heat treatment for pain relief. “Thermotherapy: At one time, thermotherapy was seen mainly as a component of the post-cryotherapy rehabilitative process. However, in recent months, new information has emerged demonstrating that thermotherapy allows the patient to attain pain relief through the well-known gate-control theory of noxious signal inhibition, a concept now known as “thermal analgesia.” When muscles and tissues are tight, circulation to the area is restricted, resulting in progressive ischemia and increasing pain. Properly applied heat allows muscular tissue to relax, facilitating increased circulation, and relieving pain by allowing metabolic toxins to be removed from the area and increasing tissue oxygenation.”Pharmacy Times: Vol No: 28:01 Posted 1/15/03: W.Steven Pray, Ph.D., R.Ph.
Joshua J. Pray, Pharm.D. Candidate
2 Many therapists recommend the application of moist heat prior to beginning home exercises. “Apply heat or ice treatments to the area you will be exercising. Heat relaxes your joints and muscles and helps relieve pain. Cold also reduces pain and swelling for some people. Be sure to apply the heat or cold correctly. Heat treatments should feel soothing and comfortable, not hot. Apply heat for about 20 minutes. Use cold for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. For more advice on proper use of heat or cold, contact your local Arthritis Foundation for a copy of the booklet “Managing Your Pain.”The Arthritis Foundation gratefully acknowledges Terry H. Oh, MD,Mayo Clinic – Rochester; Marian Minor, PhD, PT, University of Missouri Health Science Center; and Laura Robbins, DSW, Hospital for Special Surgery, for their assistance with this booklet.