Is there anything you can do about pain and stiffness arthritis symptoms? You may have wondered whether or not heat or cold plunge therapy can help bring relief to your arthritis pain. After all, many people living with arthritis have claimed to alleviate their stiff joints and stiff muscles using these very therapies.
What's more, many arthritis doctors recommend both heat and cold therapy treatment to help reduce inflammation and ease the pain and stiffness that come with arthritis. With that said, everyone's arthritis pain is unique, so it may take some trial and error to uncover which treatment works best for your pain.
If you stick with it through the trial phase, you can find the right combination of hot and cold therapies to get the most relief from pain and more efficiently manage your arthritis symptoms. Of course, if pain persists or worsens, consult your doctor.
How Do Heat and Cold Therapies Help Arthritis Discomfort?
Heat or cold therapy works by stimulating specific healing response systems within the body. For example, heat causes vasodilation, meaning the blood vessels expand to allow more blood flow, boosting circulation and reducing muscle spasms. Heat can also dull the sensation of pain, using dry heat therapies like heating pads or heat lamps or moist heat therapies like warm baths or heated moist towels.
On the other hand, cold compresses reduce swelling by causing blood vessels to contract, slowing blood flow. Using other cold therapy like cold plunge tubs may be uncomfortable at first, but they can be very effective at numbing deep pain.
Hot Therapy for Easing Arthritis Joint Pain
Can Hot Baths or Saunas Ease Arthritis Pain?
Many people with arthritis joint pain find relief with heat therapy such as hot baths or saunas. These therapeutic heat therapies increase muscle relaxation, encourage blood supply, and improve flexibility. Keep in mind that it's essential to avoid hot tubs or saunas if you have high blood pressure or heart disease.
Which Types of Hot Therapy Help Arthritis Pain?
There are numerous types of popular heat therapy to alleviate arthritis pain:
- Disposable heating patches available over the counter
- Heating packs warmed up in a microwave
- Swimming in a heated pool
- Moist heating pads or towels
- Electric heating pads
- Hot water bottles
- Warm bath
- Warm shower
- Hot tubs
Cold Therapy for Arthritic Joint Pain
Can Cold Therapy Help Arthritic Joint Pain?
Cold therapy helps numb sore joint areas and reduce inflammation and stiffness for people with arthritis. Applying ice packs to affected joints is especially good for joint pain caused by an arthritis flare-up. Some people even make their instant cold packs from frozen bags of vegetables in a pinch.
Some people with arthritis prefer cold therapy to hot therapy for alleviating arthritis pain. In contrast, others claim to get the most relief from alternating between sessions using hot and cold, sometimes called contrast therapy. It's best to experiment with hot and cold therapy methods to determine which type of treatment provides the most relief with the least hassle. What are some other ways you can implement hot and cold therapies?
Testing Hot and Cold Treatments for Arthritis
You should test hot and cold therapy treatment methods to see what works best for your particular pain. For instance, it's important to never apply heat to a joint that already feels hot, red, and irritated. Also, never apply cold to a joint that's already stiff and immobile. Remember, heat relaxes muscles, and cold helps minimize inflammation, pain, and swelling.
It's also wise to be careful when using hot and cold therapy to manage your arthritis pain to prevent damage to your skin from chronic exposure to extreme temperatures. Closely monitor your skin condition when testing different types of hot and cold therapy methods.
The following are some guidelines to follow when using heat therapy devices like a heating pad, heat pack, moist towel soaked in hot water, a warm water soaking session, or a hot water bottle.
- Be sure temperatures are never unbearably high to prevent burns to the skin.
- Put a cloth or towel between your skin and the heat source
- Never apply heat to skin that is cut or injured
- Limit heat applications to 20 minutes or less
Here are some guidelines for safely using cold therapy devices such as cold packs, bags of frozen vegetables, or bags of ice.
- Place a cloth or towel between your skin and the cold source to prevent skin irritation or damage.
- Avoid using cold therapy if you have circulatory problems like low blood pressure.
- Never leave a cold application on the skin for longer than 20 minutes
- If your skin starts going numb, blisters, or turns bright red, remove the cold source immediately
After applying heat or cold to your skin, continuously monitor your skin condition for any signs of damage like changes in color, rashes, or blisters.
Alternating between hot and cold therapies can deliver excellent arthritis pain benefits, but only as long as each one is used correctly.
How Frequently Should I Use Hot and Cold Therapy for Arthritis Pain?
When you need relief from chronic arthritis pain, you can use moist heat or ice packs at least twice a day to reduce pain and stiffness in your joints. So how long should each type of therapy for arthritis pain last?
According to the American physical therapy association, you can perform an ice massage for five to 10-minutes on the affected area. If you're using a whole-body therapy like cold water immersion, you should limit sessions to 10-minutes or less.
For heat therapy, such as an electric heating pad for relaxing muscles and easing joint pain, sessions should range between five to ten minutes. If you want longer sessions using warm water, you can apply moist heat using a thin towel.
Cold Water Therapy For Rheumatoid Arthritis Any Time
RENU cold therapy tubs are always ready with the precise temperature you need for arthritis relief.
Contact RENU today to get access to daily relief from arthritis joint pain in the comfort of your own home using cold therapy without the painful ice pack applications.