Do heat patches re­ally help with mus­cle pain?

BBC Earth (Asia) - - Q&a -

Al­though heat should not be used for a fresh in­jury, it can cer­tainly be ben­e­fi­cial for long-term con­di­tions. Heat patches di­late blood ves­sels, pro­mot­ing blood flow and help­ing to re­lax painful mus­cles. Tis­sue in­jury ac­ti­vates nerve end­ings in the skin called no­ci­cep­tors, which trans­mit sig­nals to the brain to in­form it of pain. At the same time, neu­ro­trans­mit­ters ini­ti­ate a re­flex that causes mus­cles to con­tract at the in­jury site, of­ten to the point of spasm. For­tu­nately, heat can ac­ti­vate tem­per­a­ture-sen­si­tive ther­more­cep­tors, which ini­ti­ate nerve sig­nals to block those from no­ci­cep­tors. Ap­ply­ing pres­sure also helps, by trig­ger­ing nerve end­ings called pro­pri­o­cep­tors. Ac­ti­vat­ing the sets of re­cep­tors helps painful mus­cles to re­lax. ED

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