Thermotherapy is commonly used to reduce pain and to manage tissue injuries and is a very commonly used therapy in physical medicine. The objective of this diploma thesis is the study of existing literature on the application of thermotherapy in physical medicine. Study results are pooled and classified according to levels of evidence pursuant to the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Review Group (SANTESSO et al., 2006) or in order to assess the effectiveness of thermotherapy. Their significance was determined by a self-imposed assessment schmeme.
Material and Methods
Subject-related studies have been searched for by means of search engines, the university librarys index and the reference lists of the collected articles. The literature search has been conducted in both English and German language and was finalized in December 2011. 35 studies have been detected and classified according to levels of evidence pursuant to the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Review Group. Or classified in a self-imposed assessment scheme. Thirteen studies thereof achieved a silver level of evidence, the remaining 22 studies were rated as significant by the self-imposed assessment scheme.
The first hypothesis was, that in 70% of the evidenced based studies, thermotherapy has an positive effect on specific tissue parameters. The examination of the effects of thermotherapy on tissue, joints and blood flow resulted in significant changes of the examined parameters in 75% of the studies so the first hypothesis is proven. The second hypothesis was, that in 70% of the evidenced based studies, thermotherapy has an analgesic effect. All studies investigating the analgesic effect of thermotherapy attest a positive effect, so the second hypothesis is proven.
In summary, it can be reasoned that thermotherapy in human medicine has an analgesic effect and alters various tissue parameters. These same effects are also to be expected when applying thermotherapy on animals.