The local thermal stimulation may have various influences on the skeletal muscles widely distributed throughout the body. Fomentation is a method of hyperthermia, and an increase in the local blood flow following local thermal stimulation affects the entire body Fomentation as a nursing technique is used mainly for physical and psychological comfort. Its promoting effects on circulation mainly in the skin and autonomic nervous system, sleep onset, and intestinal peristalsis have been reported. We have reviewed the evaluation methods using physiological parameters in fomentation studied by basic or clinical nurses, and the present status of the studies including the possibility of evaluation based on the metabolic function. Effects of fomentation were assessed based on the vital signs, skin surface temperature, skin blood flow, vascular distension rate, vascular circumference, cerebral blood flow, range of joint motion, autonomic activity etc. However, there is no established method of effective fomentation and no consensus has been reached on the influences of local changes following fomentation.

We have previously demonstrated an increase in the serum adiponectin level and a decrease in soluble urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor after the application of fomentation to femoral part of lower extremities in healthy people. Furthermore, our transcriptome studies in vitro have indicated that thermal stimulation of human normal skeletal muscle derived cells gave significant changes in gene expression related to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Utilization of thermal stimulation over the skeletal muscle might be prospective tool for prevention against atherosclerosis. Further studies in vivo are required to determine the thermal effect for prevention of atherosclerosis in clinical practice.

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