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Heat and Cold Therapy For Arthritis Pain
You might have heard about the differences between heat and ice
therapy and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Did you know,
however, that they can actually be used together to help provide relief
for conditions such as arthritis?
While there is no cure for arthritis, the pain and stiffness can
still be treated with a good pain management strategy. When they are
combined properly, cold therapy and heat therapy can provide a lot of
relief, for not just the pain, but the stiffness as well.
Since no two people are exactly alike, how the two therapies are
combined might take a bit of trial and error. There are so many products
out there, including ice packs, heating pads, heated wash cloths, etc.
It’s important to know which ones would be ideal for you, and at what
Here are a few tips on how to combine these therapies to provide arthritis relief
- When there is a flare up of pain, ice is usually recommended, as it reduces swelling and inflammation in the joints.
- When there is stiffness and tightness, a heat pad or wrap is
recommended, as heat increases blood flow and oxygen to the area to
allow a better range of movement. This means that heat therapy should be
used prior to a workout.
You really can get a good workout even if you
have arthritis – all you have to do is use heat therapy to relieve
muscle stiffness ahead of time and have an ice pack ready to reduce
swelling after the workout is over.
- Do not use heat therapy at a high temperature. If you burn your
skin, you will only make the situation worse. Even if a high temperature
feels good on your skin, you could still burn yourself if you’re not
- Don’t overuse an ice pack either. Use ice to numb the pain, and once
you have succeeded in doing that, take the ice off. Never leave it on
for more than fifteen minutes at a time. Take ten minute breaks in
- It’s also recommended that you wrap the ice or cold gel pack in a
thin towel before applying to the affected area. When the swelling seems
to go down, switch to an electrical heat pack to help prevent stiffness.
- Choose the right type of heat therapy to help you deal with
arthritis. Most people use hot packs, which can be either heated in the
microwave or boiled in hot water for ten minutes or so. Depending on the
severity of your condition, a warm shower or bath might be enough. It’s
still a good idea to have a reusable electrical heat pack, portable heating pad on hand just in case your joints get stiff at work or in the car.
- Consider taking an ice bath right after doing an intense activity.
This may help reduce the amount of inflammation in your joints, as well
as prevent the breakdown of your muscle tissues. You obviously won’t
want to stay in an ice bath for more than a few minutes.
Regardless of which type of therapy and product(s) you use, alternating between cold therapy and heat therapy can do wonders for your arthritis.
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