Wax Therapy is a therapeutic technique in which paraffin and mineral oil immersion are used in combination for the treatment of the distal parts of body like hands and feet. It is usually 6:1 or 7:1 of wax to mineral oil that is used for therapeutic purpose.
Paraffin wax therapy has been known and utilized for centuries for the treatment of many conditions. History of its use can be traced back to the century of the Roman Empire. After that the Roman physicians used it for therapeutic purposes. They use to pour hot wax onto the body of patients in order to prepare them for the massage therapy. Later, the French started using Paraffin wax for the treatment of the injuries in order to increase the rate of healing for their patients and soldiers. During World War 1, the British Medical Soldiers also use warm paraffin as wax therapy for the treatment of the orthopedic injuries and disorders within the military hospitals.
Wax usually melts at 54 c but when paraffin wax is added to this solution, this point lowers between 42 and 52 c making it more tolerable than hot water. In addition, specific heat of wax is lower than water and addition of paraffin lowers it further. Temperature is usually maintained at 40-44 c. When wax solidifies, it releases latent heat of fusion (35KJ/Kg) that is transmitted in to body tissues and is responsible for treating different conditions of hands and feet. Higher temperatures are beneficial for hands and lower for feet.Many Modalities uses their different kinds or energies and working principals.
Methods of Application Of Wax Therapy:
Various methods of application are used:
- Dip method
- Continuous immersion method
- Direct pouring method
- Brushing method
- Toweling or bandaging method
This is the most commonly used method, steps included in this method are:
- Wash the part to be treated and ask the patient to dip his hand or foot (part to be treated) into wax unit, remove it and wait for sometime usually 2-3 sec, until wax hardens.
- Re dip the part in the wax unit and then again move out.
- Repeat the process for about 6-12 times until a coating of about 2-3 mm thick is formed over the part to be treated.
- Put that part in the plastic bag and wrap it into the towel to limit the rate of heat loss.
- The wax glove is usually left in place for about 15 min till it completely solidifies.
- Remove the towel and wax glove, inspect and dry the part.
- Discarded wax can be remelted for its use again in the bath.
Continuous immersion method:
Steps included in this method are:
- Wash the part to be treated, and ask the patient to immerse hand or feet in the wax unit.
- Re immerse the part to be treated and then leave it in the unit without moving that part.
- Make sure that patient is positioned properly and he is comfortable during the session.
- Remain there for about 15 min, this can be combined with active movements during the session.
Direct pouring method:
In this method, wax is molten , after which this wax is poured by means of a utensil on the part to be treated and then wrap the part by means of a towel.
In this method, wax applied by means of a brush over the part to be treated. Several layers are applied. Allow wax to become solid and then wrap it by means of a towel.
Toweling or bandaging method:
In this method, dip the towel or bandage in the molten wax and then wrap it around the part to be treated. This method is useful for the treatment of the proximal parts of the body.
Physiological Effects Of Wax Therapy:
- There is local rise in the temperature.
- Stimulation of vessels resulting in local hyperemia and reflex vasodilatation.
- Sedative effect on sensory nerves.
- Skin become pliable and moist.
Indications Of Wax Therapy:
- Scars or adhesions
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Degenerative diseases affecting hands and feet.
Contraindication Of Wax Therapy:
- Open wound
- Allergic conditions of skin
- Other conditions of skin
- Varicose veins
- Altered skin sensation
- Impaired Circulation
- Areas of recent bleeding or haemorrhage
- De vitalised tissues (e.g after deep X-ray therapy)
- Acute inflammation
- Unstable, fragile or early stage skin grafts
- The ‘Dip and Re immerse’ method should not be used in patients having remarkable edema.
- Cooler wax temperatures must be used while treating foot than treating the hand.