Thermotherapy is one of the oldest medical procedures. It is used in conventional medicine, physiotherapy and holistic medicine and is applied to various diseases.
Thermotherapy generally refers to the treatment of pain by means of heat or cold. Its purpose is the activation of the body’s own healing powers.
By using thermotherapy in form of cold, inflammations are dampened because a lower body temperature inhibits the spreading of inflammatory agents. Short-term cold supply also stimulates the muscle activity, thereby increasing muscle tension.
Thermotherapy in the form of heat stimulates our metabolism and strengthens a weakened immune system. Long heat thermotherapy treatments also relieve from pain and help to relax our muscles. In general, in thermotherapy, the blood circulation of a single body portion or an organ is selectively increased in order to promote the natural healing processes in this area. The heat stimulates the metabolism in the body and mobilizes the transport of oxygen, nutrients and antibodies.
In thermotherapy various application forms are used: heating pads, hot air, hot water bottles, hot packs or wraps, light rays with infrared or ultrasound, but also certain drugs such as Capsaicin, which causes skin irritation and thus stimulates circulation. Sauna and steam baths also help relieve tensions and are helpful in the prevention of virus infections.
Thermotherapy is used successfully in various diseases. For example, tense muscles are loosened by thermotherapy and thus relaxing (either hot or cold thermotherapy). But even with joint diseases such as osteoarthritis or arthritis and rheumatic complaints, thermotherapy may bring about alleviation, as well as with bronchitis or asthma. Today, modern hyperthermia is taking up that role, especially with rheumatic complaints.
A special form of thermotherapy is hyperthermia. Hyperthermia sums up all procedures in which an overheating of the body (whole body hyperthermia) or parts of our body (local hyperthermia) using micro-or radio waves, or infrared radiators from the outside to heat up our body or part of our body.
In this particular field of thermotherapy, tremendous progress has been made in recent years, particularly in the fight against tumors. Noumerous publications are documenting the effectivness and researchers have found out that cancer cells, due to their primitive blood supply, cannot absorb heat as good as healthy tissue. This is due to the fact that tumor cells have a different metabolism and a different blood supply than healthy cells. Cancer cells exposed to a heat buildup can lead to an insufficient supply of the tumor cells with oxygen, thus leading to a nutrient depletion of the tumor. This deficiency leads to disturbances of important metabolic processes like cell divisions and cell maintenance, even a failure of the repair systems of the cancer cells. Cells damaged by thermotherapy may not be replaced, which can lead to the death of tumor cells.