How are superficial and deep heat used in the treatment of musculoskeletal problems?
• Superficial heat only penetrates tissue to a depth of 1 to 1.5 cm, and its effects last for 30 to 45 minutes. It works best for smaller superficial joints, such as in the hands. Paraffin baths of the hands are often used in patients with RA and scleroderma to reduce pain and improve ROM.
• Deep heat is delivered by ultrasound or short-wave diathermy. Tissues at a depth of 3 to 6 cm can be heated to 41°C. The effect lasts for 30 to 45 minutes during which exercises should be done. Deep heat works best for large joints and muscles.