What is thermotherapy?

It is the application of heat in its different degrees on the organism for therapeutic purposes. This application is given by thermal agents, which are materials that are at a temperature higher than the physiological limits.

Search from the effects it causes, improve the state of an injury or illness.

It is one of the therapeutic techniques most used by professionals for its great benefits and low cost.

It can be classified as superficial when penetration is low (as with the use of infrared or therapeutic actions by reflex mechanisms) or deep when biological effects occur due to direct heating of deep tissues (as it happens in the use of some electric currents)

Most of the heat in our body comes from the oxidation of food. The speed with which this heat is produced is known as IM and is measured in Kcal.

IM may affect factors such as:

  • Exercise
  • Nervous system
  • Hormones
  • Body temperature
  • Food intake
  • Age
  • Others: sex, weather, sleep, malnutrition,…

Mechanisms of heat transmission

To achieve the passage of heat from one body to another, one of these mechanisms is required:

  • Driving: It is the mechanism of energy exchange ends between two surfaces in contact. It is necessary to remember that the conductivity of solids is 100 times greater than that of liquids and that of these is 100 times greater than that of gases. Another point to consider when heat is applied by conduction is that metals are good conductors, non-metals are bad conductors (for example, the human body) and that air is an important insulator.
  • Convection: It is the heat transfer that takes place in a liquid or a gas. Here it happens that the hot molecules rise and the cold ones descend.
  • Radiation: It is the transport of heat through the vacuum. It is important to know that radiant energy is reflected in white surfaces and absorbed in black.

Thermal agents

The heat propagates from the thermal agent to the organism, producing an increase in temperature, which will cause the various therapeutic effects.

Within these thermal agents we find:

– Solid conductive media

  • Hot sand or psamoterpia
  • Customer wraps: Domestic treatment, are heated blankets with iron or handmade ovens, lose heat quickly and can not measure the temperature.
  • Thermoforos: Domestic heat applications. Includes hot bricks, hot water bags and hot packs.
  • Chemical bags: Produce an exothermic chemical reaction. It reaches a maximum temperature of 54 degrees.
  • Electric pads: They have a power between 10 and 50 watts.

– Semi-solid and liquid conductive media

  • Hot wet compress: Reaches temperatures of 71.1 to 79.4 degrees C.
  • Paraffin: Its melting point is at 54.5 degrees. It can be used by immersion, embrocation, reinmersion, compresses or whipping techniques.
  • Parafango: It is a mixture of paraffin, volcanic mud and mineral salts. It is used at temperatures of 47-52 degrees.
  • Mud therapy
  • Hot hydrotherapy

– Convective media

  • Dry air: Mixed bath of very dry hot air, alternating with cold applications.
  • Humid air: Total saturated water vapor bath between 38-45 or 60 degrees.

– By radiation

  • Infrared radiation

Effects of thermotherapy

  • A controlled increase in temperature produces:
  • Improvement of nutrition and cellular oxygenation
  • Improve defenses by increasing the amount of defense elements.
  • Bactericidal action
  • Anti-inflammatory action (combat chronic stage inflammations)
  • Analgesic action
  • Antispasmodic action
  • Improve cell restoration
  • Increase lymphatic drainage
  • Promotes tissue repair processes

The heat limit is limited by the patient’s sensitivity and the tolerance he has towards him


  • Osteomuscular and rheumatic diseases
  • Muscle tears
  • Muscle contractures
  • Spasms
  • Period pains
  • Gastric pains
  • Chronic and sub acute inflammatory processes
  • Tendinosis
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • Dupuytren’s disease
  • Bursitis
  • Peripheral circulation disorders
  • Functional re-education
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hypertonia


When applying heat as a therapeutic means, care must be taken and preferably avoided and replaced by another agent in cases of:

  • Heart disease
  • Anticoagulated patients
  • Infectious processes
  • Neoplasms
  • Glaucoma
  • Severe hypotension
  • Active hemorrhage
  • Liver failure
  • Acute inflammation
  • Renal problems
  • Active dermal disorders (fungi for example)
  • Active collagenopathies
  • Sensitivity alterations

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