The contrast bath can help improve circulation around your injured tissue. Contrast bath therapy is a Thermotherapy in which all or part of the body is immersed first in hot water, then in cold water, and this procedure of alternating hot and cold immersion is repeated several times.
Aim of Treatment
- Decreased pain
- Decreased swelling
- Controlled inflammation
- Improved mobility
How Contrast Bath Therapy Work
Such treatment causes considerable sensory stimulation due to the activation of cutaneous hot and cold receptors. The treatment helps to modulate pain, as the strong sensory stimulation does the same by the pain gate mechanism and it also reduces local edema by the alternate vasoconstriction and vasodilation. It also increases circulation in the deeper part of the body reflexively.
Methods of Application
- Avoid use on areas with poor blood flow (such as on hands or feet that are always cold) or
- Decreased sensation (areas that feel numb or tingling).
- Select two baths of a suitable size depending upon the size of the limb.
- Fill one bath with hot water maintained at a temperature of 40-45°C and the other with cold water maintained at a temperature of 15°C.
- Undress the part to be treated and remove the jewelry and check the skin sensation for hot and cold as described for the wax treatment
- Check any other contraindications to treatment as is done for heat and cold.
- If treatment is for pain relief, it is usual to start and end the treatment with hot water, whereas if treatment is for reducing edema, start and end the treatment with immersion in cold water.
- Place the limb in hot water for 3-4 minutes followed by immediate immersion in cold water for 1 minute.
- Repeat the treatment cycles for 3-4 times,
- Treatment duration- 15-25 minutes.
- During treatment maintain the hot and cold water at a constant temperature.
- Check the skin after treatment. The skin may show mild erythema after the treatment.
Risk of contrast bath therapy
- Burns from water that is too hot
- Skin damage from water that is too cold
Evidence of Physiological effects
A growing body of research has been built looking at the physiological effects of contrast therapy.
Changes in arterial blood flow in response to contrast therapy
have been measured by a number of researchers using a variety of techniques.
|14 men||Blood lactate
|24 men||Arterial blood flow
in the lower leg
|Hastens reduction of
plasma lactate decrease after
|20 men||Blood lactate
little effect on
sprint performance (1
and faster restoration
of strength and
power measured by
isometric force and
difference was found
in perceived pain and
creatine kinase levels
|26 men||Limb girth (midthigh and mid-calf),
range of motion,
lower body power,
speed and agility,
(using a visual
and serum creatine
|Creatine kinase and
transiently and midthigh girth increased
no other significant
Indications of Contrast Bath
- Post traumatic swelling.
- Pain due to swelling.
- Chronic inflammation.
- Advanced peripheral vascular disease.
- Arterial insufficiency.
- Diabetes mellitus.
2)Electrotherapy Simplified by Basant Kumar Nanda