Hot Compress: How Does It Work?

January 8, 2011

Many households use a hot compress to help relieve pain. But do you know how a hot compress works to provide natural pain relief?


Why do people use hot compresses frequently?

hot compressPain is something that people deal with everyday. Because pain is a considerable health burden, millions of dollars every year are spent on medical efforts to help ease it. Fortunately, there are natural pain relief methods that are effective, inexpensive, and easily available.

A hot compress is a convenient way to help assuage pain. All you need is a clean towel and hot water. Research has shown that a hot compress naturally and effectively relieves even deep-seated pain, such as abdominal pain and back pain.


How does a hot compress work?

For you to comprehend how a hot compress works, it is important to understand how pain comes about.

There are many types of nerve receptors in the body. Each nerve receptor specializes in picking up specific stimuli. For example, Pacini corpuscles are nerve receptors that sense pressure changes.

Pain, on the other hand, is picked up by nerve endings. Therefore, these nerve endings are the receptors for pain.

Think of receptors as cars. While cars transport people, receptors help transport messages (stimuli). For them to transport these messages, they need to go through different highways (nerve paths) in the body.

There are also different types of nerve paths. The nerve path used by a certain stimulus will depend on what kind of stimulus it is.

Pain uses the same highway as temperature, such as hot and cold. This highway is narrow; usually, only one type of message can get through. If two messages are transported through one highway at the same time, traffic ensues. Eventually, only one of them makes it through.

When you use a hot compress over one painful area of your body, the nerves try to transmit both pain and heat back to your brain. If both heat and pain travel through one nerve path, the “hot” message makes it to your brain before the “painful” message does. The result: you feel the heat, but not the pain.

Want to know how a hot compress is properly prepared and administered? Learn more about preparing a hot compress.


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