Fireplaces and Pain Relief

By | January 16, 2013

The stones in this wall absorb energy from the fire and will continue to provide radiant heat long after the fire has been banked.

The stones in this wall absorb energy from the fire and will continue to provide radiant heat long after the fire has been banked.

As I sit here roughly twelve hours before the publication of this blog I am reminded of another tool to combat pain well known to the ancients which has been almost forgotten by we moderns is the fireplace. Most Americans warm their houses in the winter using forced hot air furnaces, in my opinion the worst method, which rely solely on convection and produce extremely dry environments. Contrast this with the traditional stone hearth, which in addition to convection uses conduction and infrared radiation to warm you. From a pain standpoint the last of these, radiant heat is the most important. Conduction and convection heat primarily the surface of the body, while radiant heat penetrates much deeper. Many patients go to physical therapists who use expensive diathermy machines. One has to wonder whether an hour in front of a roaring fire might not be more pleasant and just as effective.


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