Steam Packs: FSA Eligibility
Under IRC 213(d)(1), "medical care includes amounts paid for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or for the purpose of affecting any structure or function of the body." This includes medical equipment and devices.
What is a steam pack?
A steam pack is also known as a moist heat pack. They are intended to provide moist heat relief for soothing discomfort stemming from soreness in the neck or back, or anywhere on the body due to arthritis, sprains or bruises. Steam packs are fabric packets that can be heated through a variety of sources including microwaves, stoves, ovens, and with heating units. They require a towel or covering before application against skin due to the amount of heat they transfer, which can otherwise cause burns and painful skin damage. Steam packs provide moist heat which is more effective than dry heat. Steam packs come in a variety of sizes so that an individual can tailor their use for specific needs on a desired part of the body.
Steam packs provide heat which can be used in conjunction with cold packs or cryotherapy tools in order to provide contrast therapy.
What is contrast therapy?
Cold therapy can be used in tandem with heating pads/packs to treat muscle/joint injuries in a process called contrast therapy. The best way to illustrate this is by looking at hot and cold packs as a pump: heat therapy will dilate blood vessels to increase blood flow of nutrient-rich blood, while cold therapy will constrict blood vessels and allow them to soak up as many nutrients as possible, thereby speeding the healing process. A cold-to-warm ratio of 1:3 or 1:4 minutes is ideal, and in many cases this method has sped recovery times for injured individuals (PainScience.com).