The heat used in moist-heat therapy gradually increases and can cause sweating, but as side effects go, that pales in comparison with the benefits of moist-heat therapy. This treatment, which can be performed with hot baths, saunas, steamed towels, and moisture-heating pads, works by dilating the capillaries in the affected area, increasing blood flow that brings nourishment and oxygen to the site, thereby restoring the muscle’s elasticity and speeding the healing process.
Patients feel better, quicker relief from moist-heat therapy, which has a much higher success rate than dry heat because water molecules are more effective heat conductors than the air or your body. Dry heat, such as that from an electric heating pad, penetrates less than a quarter inch, to just below the skin. In going deeper, moist heat relaxes the muscles and increases range of motion. Like other heat therapies, it’s usually used only after cold therapy if the latter is needed to first reduce inflammation and swelling.