Localized temperature therapy, the application of heat or cold, has long been recognized as an effective therapeutic intervention. The appropriate application of localized temperature therapy has several clinical benefits including pain relief, improved blood flow and tissue metabolism, removal of wastes and toxins, and reduction in swelling. There are several therapeutic modalities available today that either use the body’s natural thermoregulatory mechanisms to relieve pain, encourage healing, or enhance the body’s ability to maintain a normal core temperature. Therefore, nurses and other health-care professionals must remain aware of the use of localized temperature therapy as an effective treatment modality.
The purpose of this continuing education activity is to provide a review of the clinical considerations related to localized temperature therapy. An overview of the physiologic process of thermoregulation will be presented, followed by a discussion of the clinical considerations related to the use of localized heat and cold therapy. Various types of disposable heat and cold therapy products, with a focus on hot and cold packs, will be described. The applicable federal regulations and practice guidelines for the manufacture and use of disposable hot and cold packs will be reviewed. Finally, selected case studies will provide the participant with the opportunity to synthesize the information and evaluate workplace scenarios in regard to appropriate use of localized temperature therapy