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Comparison of in vivo temperatures produced by hydrotherapy, paraffin wax treatment, and Fluidotherapy

PainSci » bibliography » Borrell et al 1980
Tags: ice heat, biology, devices, rehab, injury, pain problems, self-treatment, treatment

Three articles on PainSci cite Borrell 1980: 1. Heat for Pain and Rehab2. Icing, Heating & Tissue Temperature3. Does Massage Increase Circulation?

PainSci commentary on Borrell 1980: ?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.

This was a trial of three kinds of superficial heating: immersion in hot wax, hot water, or a “dry whirlpool,” a novel method of dry heating called Fluidotherapy. Dry heat is more easily tolerated, so the hope was that it would be more effective, and it was: dry heat on the hands and feet raised tissue temperature at a half centimetre depth to 9˚ and 5˚ respectively, somewhat more than hot wax or water.

“Temperature rises of capsules in the hand and foot were consistently higher than temperature rises in muscle at the same depth and that the temperature rises in the foot were higher than those in the hand. The former is probably due to blood flow variations between muscle and capsule; the latter because foot skin temperatures are normally two or three degrees lower than hand temperatures.”

The authors make the case these methods are superior to the “penetrating” heat of microwaves or ultrasound because they can be easily applied to larger surface areas. And so “the data show that surface heating modalities are much more effective in producing elevated temperatures than is ultrasound therapy or diathermy at depths of up to 1.2 cm.”

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

The effectiveness of a new heat modality, Fluidotherapy, was compared with other superficial heat modalities by in vivo temperature measurements. The joint capsule and muscle temperatures in the hands and feet were measured in subjects treated with hydrotherapy, paraffin wax, and Fluidotherapy. Fluidotherapy is a dry heat modality consisting of finely divided solids suspended in an air stream. The dry heat modality, applied at 118 degrees F (47.78 degrees C), resulted in maximum joint capsule and muscle temperature rises of 16.2 degrees F (9 degrees C) and 9.5 degrees F (5.27 degrees C), respectively, compared to 13.5 degrees F (7.5 degrees C) and 8.1 degrees F (4.5 degrees C) for paraffin wax treatment and 10.8 degrees F (6.0 degrees C) and 7.7 degrees F (4.3 degrees C) for a 102 degrees F (38.89 degrees C) water bath, at a depth of about 0.5 cm beneath the skin. At depths down to 1.2 cm, superficial heat modalities are more effective than diathermy and much more effective than ultrasound in elevating temperature.

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