Heat therapy increases the temperature of the targeted area, improving circulation and blood flow. This can soothe stiff joints and increase muscle flexibility. Heat therapy may involve dry heat, such as a heating pad, or moist heat, such as steamed towels.
Cold therapy is used to decrease blood flow to a targeted area which can reduce inflammation and swelling, particularly around a joint or tendon. Cryotherapy involves the use of freezing or near-freezing temperatures and is a relatively new therapy. Cryotherapy is generally safe but should only be done at a facility under proper supervision. Whole-body cryotherapy should never be done without another person present.