All About the Thermophore
Update 2017: at this time,we carry the TheraTherm, a very similar product that works in the same way as the thermaphore.
Why is moist heat more effective than dry heat (or no heat at all) in relieving pain?
It has been proven that water is a more effective conductor of heat than air - in fact, moist heat has been shown to penetrate 27 times better than dry heat! In addition, body tissues are able to tolerate moist heat at a higher temperature than dry heat. As this intense heat penetrates painful body tissues, blood vessels dilate, increasing the circulation in the area. The increased blood flow relieves inflammation, brings additional oxygen, carries away toxins and waste for healing, and provides relief from pain. The Thermophore® unit makes what medical professionals call a "hot fomentation compress" even when you don't add water, to ease the cycle of pain and muscle spasm and allow for more natural movement and comfortable rest. It is especially effective in providing relief from the pain of arthritis, back or neck pain, fibromyalgia, sciatic pain, muscle strains or respiratory congestion.
Is it necessary to add moisture to the Thermophore® Pack?
No, you don't have to add any water to our covers. The special Moist-Sure™ fleece cover absorbs moisture from the atmosphere to generate a light layer of moisture on your skin. You don't need to be dripping wet for effective moist heat therapy - just a light layer of water vapor is all you need, and most homes have plenty of humidity in the air to provide the necessary moisture. It helps add more moisture to the cover if you store the Thermophore® cover in a humidified room or the laundry or bathroom - any location where there is plenty of moisture in the air, when it is not in use. Often, just washing the cover will allow the fabric to re-absorb plenty of moisture. There are no chemicals to wear out, and no special treatment of the fabric is required - it can be washed and dried as needed. For arid climates, areas where the air gets very dry for part of the year, or homes where heavy use of heating or air conditioning systems dry the indoor air, we now have a Moisture-Plus™ cover as well. Included with our Thermophore Classic™ Plus and MaxHEAT™ Plus styles, this cover has a vinyl-lined pocket to let you safely add a damp cloth and increase the available moisture. When atmospheric moisture just doesn't seem like quite enough, you'll love the Moisture-Plus™ cover!
Where does the moisture come from?
Each Thermophore® unit has a specially-woven Moist-Sure™ fleece cover. Between uses, this cover traps moisture from the atmosphere in the air spaces between the textile strands. Although the fabric does not feel wet, the application of quick, intense heat will generate this moisture into water vapor to increase the benefit of heat therapy. When activated, the Thermophore® heating unit becomes intensely hot very quickly. Through what is known as "hygroscopic action", the moisture moves away from the source of heat to the cooler body tissue. When properly applied, a light layer of moisture is produced between the Thermophore® unit and the body, to allow a deeper, more effective transfer of heat into painful areas. Thermophore Classic™ Plus and MaxHEAT™ Plus systems include a Moisture-Plus™ cover that untilizes atmospheric moisture, but also allows you to safely add a damp cloth for additional moisture. If you live in a dry climate or frequent use of the heating/cooling system in your home dries out indoor air, adding the Moisture-Plus™ cover will insure the ultimate in moist-heat therapy!
How can I be sure my Thermophore® is producing moisture?
After placing the hot pack unit inside the cover, plug the unit in and lay it out flat on a glass or Formica table or counter top. Either hold the switch down (if you are using the Thermophore Classic™) or push the "on" button (if you are using the MaxHEAT™ style). Let the unit warm for about 5 minutes to activate the moisture in the fleece cover. When you pick up the pad at the end of 5 minutes, you should see tiny moisture drops on the glass or Formica surface. If you run your hand over the surface, you can feel the moisture and see streaks of water. If you live in an area with a dry climate, or frequent use of the furnace or air conditioner makes the indoor air too dry, you may need to use our Moisture-Plus™ cover. It will utilize atmospheric moisture, but also has a separate vinyl pocket that allows you to add a damp cloth for added moisture.
Can I use the Thermophore® over my clothing?
We recommend using the Thermophore® directly on the skin, if possible, so that the moist heat can penetrate most effectively and deeply into the tissue. Using it over pajamas or a shirt will also work if that is more convenient for you. Metal buttons, clips or buckles on clothing under the Thermophore® may become quite hot, and should not be allowed to contact skin directly until they have had a chance to cool. We recommend that you do not lay on top of a Thermophore®, because it will reduce the effectiveness of your moist heat therapy and may damage the components inside your Thermophore®.
Why doesn't the Thermophore® Pack have a switch with lower heat settings?
The first thing many users notice is that our units do not have the typical "low/medium/high" temperature settings. The Thermophore® is so effective because it gets much hotter, and heats much more quickly, than ordinary heating pads; it would not provide such effective moist heat therapy at significantly lower temperatures.
To be most effective, moist heat therapy must be intensely hot and alternate with periods of cooling. For best results, the painful tissues need to be heated enough to greatly increase the circulation of blood, reduce inflammation and relieve muscle spasm.
Why does the Thermophore Classic™ have a special, spring-loaded switch?
The Thermophore® pack treatment is so soothing and relaxing that users often doze off as their pain and tension eases. If the user does fall asleep while using the original Thermophore® Automatic Moist Heat Pack™, their hand will relax, automatically turning the unit off. No other product has a safety switch quite like the Thermophore® Automatic Moist Heat Pack™.
Our Thermophore® Arthritis Pad™ offers the quality and intense heat users have come to expect, plus the added convenience of a pre-set control to leave your hands free. Users turn the heat on and off with simple push-buttons to control the level of heat to their personal preference. If they happen to doze off or become distracted during treatment, the unit automatically shuts off at the end of the current 20-minute cycle.
Why is the Thermophore® Pack so much heavier than ordinary heating pads?
To relieve aches and pains, it is necessary for the heat to effectively transfer deeply into body tissues. To make the Thermophore® pack more efficient, we have positioned weights to cause the Thermophore® pack to conform to body contours. This reduces air spaces between the Thermophore® hot pack and body, so more heat is transmitted to the body tissues. Ordinary stiff plastic heating pads leave air pockets, which result in uneven transfer of heat.
Why do the instructions say "Do not sit or lie on your Thermophore®?
The warning not to sit or lie on top of your heating pad is required by UL Standards, the guidelines used by the industry for testing and approval. It must be included on any product that is currently tested and approved for sale in the US by UL, ETL, or any other Certified Testing Lab.
The Thermophore® is constructed with heater wires in a fabric foundation. Folding or lying on top of the unit traps and intensifies the heat at "pressure points." The Thermophore® is also able to trap more moisture from the atmosphere when it is not insulated between your body and the cushioning of your furniture or bed. In addition, our units reach a much higher temperature than ordinary heating pads and it would be possible to damage your skin (or your furniture) by trapping and intensifying this heat.
Compressing the Thermophore® when it has become folded or bunched under your body can also damage the special metal strips inside, and they serve several functions. They hold the heater wires in place throughout the entire area of the Thermophore®, help distribute the heat and retain the heat level when the switch is shut off, increase the production of moisture, and make the heating unit mold against the contours of your body to make good contact for even transfer of heat. Lying or sitting on a Thermophore® will often mangle these strips, reducing there effectiveness.
I smell something when I use my Thermophore®. What is it that I'm smelling?
The fabric and electrical components of the Thermophore® sometimes give off a bit of an odor, especially the first few times they are heated. This is normal.
Should I use the heat therapy of a Thermophore® or the cold therapy of Ice It!® to treat my arthritis pain?
Most professionals have concluded that personal preference may ultimately be the most important aspect that determines which type of therapy will work best for a particular patient - which makes very good sense. If you don't like cold therapy, you won't be as likely to continue using it regularly. If moist heat therapy is difficult or uncomfortable for you, there is a higher chance that you will begin to skip sessions.
A study reported in the December 2006 Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, asked 150 patients visiting a clinic for joint pain to fill out questionnaires regarding their response to treatment with ice or heat. Twenty-six patients indicated that they had never tried ice or heat.
Of the remaining 124 patients:
• 20 patients had gout diagnosed by crystals
• 32 patients had rheumatoid arthritis
• 32 patients had osteoarthritis
• 18 patients had other types of inflammatory arthritis
•22 patients had soft tissue conditions
Researchers concluded that a significantly higher percentage of patients with gouty arthritis preferred topical ice for pain relief. Most patients with rheumatoid arthritis preferred heat.
Why might a doctor or physical therapist tell me to use both hot and cold therapy for pain?
Medical professionals have learned that many problems can respond well to either hot or cold therapy, and their experience has been that one or the other may work better under certain conditions. Often, it is most effective to alternate hot and cold therapy to stimulate circulation, relieve pain and relax muscle spasm. Your doctor or physical therapist has the experience and training to understand your body and the problems you are having, and will be your best source of advice.
What types of problems respond well to moist heat therapy?
Moist heat therapy has long been the preferred treatment for many types of acute (short-term) or long-lasting, chronic pain. Headache, including sinus pain or migraine can be relieved or minimized with the application of heat to the face or back of the neck. The lingering after-effects of sports injuries, surgeries, broken bones or auto accidents can often be reduced by using heat (after the first 24-hours) to increase circulation to the area, which will help reduce bruising, swelling, muscle spasm, inflammation, stiffness and pain. Tendon and/or joint problems such as TMJ, carpal tunnel, tendonitis, tennis elbow, rotator cuff (shoulder) pain or any type of knee pain (whether from torn cartilage, hyper-extension, arthritis or surgery) often respond well to moist heat therapy after the acute stage. Many types of muscle spasm, back pain, neck pain, arthritis pain - nearly any condition that involves pain, swelling or inflammation - may be relieved to a surprising extent by a quick moist heat therapy session with your Thermophore®.
Family members who suffer from chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, even those coping with the pain of cancer, will often find the soothing pain relief of a Thermophore® to be a dependable pain management tool. Inventive customers who are undergoing kidney dialysis, or phlebotomists who do frequent blood draws, report that they use our Thermophore® Muff to warm the area and increase blood flow to make it easier and more comfortable to find a good vein and insert the needle for their procedure.
How often can treatments be applied?
Beneficial results continue for several hours after each treatment. If needed, the Thermophore® Pack can be applied two or three times daily. Maximum results are usually obtained within thirty minutes, and treatments should not last longer unless prescribed by your physician.
Can I use a Thermophore® with my pacemaker?
This is the type of question that we would refer to your physician. He knows your medical condition and can evaluate situation, or will help you contact the manufacturer of your pacemaker to discuss the question with them.
Why not just buy an ordinary heating pad, instead of a Thermophore® unit?
An ordinary heating pad is not hot enough to provide the same level of comfort and pain relief as the Thermophore®. Thermophore® Heat Packs are hot fomentation products and are viewed as a medical device by medical professionals. An ordinary heating pad will keep you warm and help you begin to relax, but it will not penetrate deeply into tissue and will not be as effective as a Thermophore® Pack. If you suffer from pain that interferes with your life or keeps you from getting a good night's rest, you will be grateful that you invested in the comfort, pain relief and relaxation of a genuine Battle Creek® Thermophore® product.
Why is Thermophore® better than other types of pain relievers?
Especially in light of the recent concerns over many arthritis medications, consumers are looking for pain relief methods with no drug side-effects, and there are certainly many available at lower prices. However, none perform like the Thermophore® pack, and you could spend hundreds of dollars on ineffective products and medical expenses while you struggle to find comfort. When quality of life suffers because of pain, a Thermophore® pack is a smart investment.
Many consumers have now become discouraged by the low heat levels and relatively high cost for long-term use of the disposable heat pack products. They do not get high enough levels of heat from ordinary heating pads to adequately relieve their pain. Consumers know and trust the Thermophore® name, and often encourage friends or family with pain issues to try a Thermophore® pack. Arthritis, bursitis, fibromyalgia, sciatica, muscle spasm, monthly cramps, chest congestion, back, neck or sinus pain - even TMJ pain, can be relieved for hours.
My Thermophore® isn't working. Can it be repaired?
Unfortunately, we are no longer able to repair Thermophore units, because of a variety of regulatory, quality and liability concerns. We do not recommend trying to repair or replace any components yourself, as it may cause a safety hazard. As an indication of our confidence in our products, we have extended our warranty coverage to two years from the date of purchase on all Thermophore units. We will replace any Thermophore pack that was purchased within the past two years and does not work properly because of a manufacturing defect. Please save your receipt to confirm date of purchase. If no receipt is available, we can determine the date of manufacture by the serial number stamped on the heating unit to estimate the date of purchase. Please DO NOT send your unit to us until you call our Customer Service Department at 800-253-0854 for instructions. We can often resolve the issue for you over the phone.
How should I wash the outer fleece cover for my Thermophore®?
If your Thermophore® is an older unit (purchased prior to 2005) the cover is 100% cotton. It should be washed in cold water and allowed to air dry, in order to avoid shrinking. If you have purchased a new Thermophore®, the cover is a cotton/poly blend which can be machine washed and dried. For best performance, do not over-dry the cover, since it will take some time for an extremely dry cover to regenerate any moisture. The inner fabric cover of the heating unit itself is not washable.