Saturday, May 18, 2024

Do You Use Heat Or Ice For Arthritis

If You Answered With Pain In The Muscles

Should you use heat or ice for joint pain?

When we talk about pain in the knee muscles what were referring to are the major muscles around the knee joint.

These are called the quadriceps and the hamstrings. The quads are at the front of your thigh, while the hamstrings are at the back of your thigh.

You can see the knee muscles in the image below:

You might want to try alternating between heat and ice on the knee muscles if your main symptom is muscle pain.

If you applied ice alone to your knee muscles, you might get some effective pain relief, but I found that my clients complained of worsening stiffness when they treat their knee muscles with just ice. For this reason, I would suggest you try for the best of both worlds and get the pain relieving effects of ice AND the mobility improvement that heat brings.

The other advantage of trying both is that you will get the chance to feel which one works best for YOU! As everyone is different, its important to take note of how you feel after each treatment.

To use this method:

  • Take a hot water bottle
  • Apply it immediately to your knee muscles, where the ice was earlier
  • Keep it there for 15 minutes, then remove
  • Go back to the peas/ice and repeat the process as many times as you need
  • Always look out for any signs of ice or heat burn on your skin and remove immediately if you see or feel anything.

Hot Vs Cold Therapy For Arthritis: Which Is Better

You can use heat or cold to manage arthritis pain. Each has its own pros and cons in different circumstances, so its best to use whichever pain treatment method provides the most effective relief for how you feel at the time:

  • Cold therapy.Cryotherapy for arthritis works better for acute pain and swelling due to its numbing effect, while also bringing down inflammation
  • Heat therapy. This arthritis care technique provides more relief if your muscles are tired or achy. For example, if youve been out walking and arthritis symptoms start to become evident without causing painful swelling, applying heat therapy may be better a better way to soothe your muscles.

Keeping both hot and cold therapy for arthritis in your arsenal is a good idea. By using heat or ice for arthritis symptoms as and when you need them, you can guide your body to a lifestyle thats more comfortable and less disruptive.

Use Heat To Encourage Healing

After your initial swelling and inflammation has subsided, heat therapy can be utilized to encourage healing in your lower back. The application of heat therapy stimulates blood flow to the area, which brings restorative oxygen and nutrients. Additionally, heat can inhibit the transmission of pain signals to your brain and decrease your stiffness.

See How to Apply Heat Therapy

There are two basic categories for heat therapy: dry and moist. Dry heat may leave your skin feeling dehydrated, but many people feel it is easier to apply. Heat therapy may be more difficult to apply, but it can aid in the penetration of heat into your muscles.

If you have diabetes, an open wound, or dermatitis it is best to avoid heat therapy altogether.

Read Also: Can You Get Rheumatoid Arthritis In Your Back

Hot Vs Cold For Pain: Whats The Difference

While both temperatures can soothe pain, they do so in different ways. Heat increases blood flow, nutrients, and oxygen to the affected area and, therefore, works to relax tight muscles. Cold lessens pain by reducing inflammation, muscle spasms, and circulation. While reducing circulation sounds bad, its actually a good thing because less circulation means your blood vessels shrink, which then lessens swelling and bleeding.

Lets explore the different kinds of pain and how each respond when heat or cold is introduced:

Ice Therapy: A Few Scenarios When Its Good For Back Pain

Aches, injuries and pains, oh my! It

Ice therapy, also known as cryotherapy, is generally meant for fresh injuries. The cold of an ice pack calms inflamed, hot, red or swollen tissue.

While this is your bodys natural reaction to an injury and a component of the healing process, it can be quite painful and last longer than it needs to.

Applying a cold gel pack to your freshly injured back or some other area of the body can dull pain and bring down swelling.

Read Also: Advil For Lower Back Pain

Also Check: How To Ease Arthritis

Cold Therapy For Rheumatoid Arthritis

If your joints are inflamed, it makes sense that something cold could ease the inflammation and thus the pain. The main benefits of cold therapy are reducing inflammation, swelling, and soreness, as well as temporarily relieving joint pain caused by an arthritis flare.

Like heat therapy, cold therapy comes in several forms. Cold packs that you place directly on an aching joint include everything from common items bags of frozen peas or gel packs found at the drugstore to complete systems of coolers, cooling pads, and devices shaped to certain parts of the body, like the knees and back.

Another simple method of cooling the joints is a cool-water soak in a tub just don’t let the water get so cold that you become chilled. There also are widely available over-the-counter cold sprays and ointments, such as Biofreeze and CryoDerm, that relieve inflammation by numbing the nerves.

One word of caution: If you have Raynaud’s syndrome, a condition in which small blood vessels in the fingers or toes constrict when exposed to cold, you probably should not use cold therapy on the affected part of your body. Of course, you should always consult your doctor or physical therapist before trying heat or cold therapy for rheumatoid arthritis.

Whats Better To Treat Your Knee: Ice Or Heat

Ice and heat are the best treatment combination for you if:

  • Youre looking to boost the natural power of pain relief and healing in your body.
  • You dont want to repeatedly pay the cost of injections, medications, hospital visits or surgery.
  • You want to help reduce the risk of re-injury, pain or swelling in your knee.
  • You want to control your own treatment and healing at home, on your own time.
  • Youre looking for a tried, tested, and true method of healingthats been used for centuries and has worked for countless other knee pain sufferers.

How to Use Superior Temperature Treatments to Heal & Relieve Pain from Your Knee Injury!

Combining cold and warmth is a simple yet effective way to get immediate pain relief and promote long-term healing. In your lifetime youve probably had your mom, family doctor, nurse, surgeon or physical therapist tell you to use ice right after youre injured and something warm from time to time once the swellings gone down. Its a simple yet very effective way to relieve pain and promote healing in your knee.

Knee injuries can happen to anyone, right now there are thousands of doctors and physical therapists dealing with patients that require a solution to treat their knee injury fast and heal it .

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Data Collection And Analysis

The above search strategy identified a set of potentially relevant articles which were subsequently retrieved for review. These trials were assessed by two independent reviewers . Studies were selected to include in the review according to the inclusion criteria.

From each included trial, we collected information regarding the trial design, patient characteristics, dosages and treatment periods, baseline and end of study outcomes. Data concerning details of the studied population, intervention and outcomes were extracted using predetermined extraction forms by two independent reviewers . Differences in data extraction were resolved by referring back to the original article and establishing consensus. A third reviewer was consulted to help resolve differences. When necessary, information was sought from the authors of the primary studies.

This review was originally conducted to develop clinical practice guidelines for OA. They were adopted by a Panel of Experts: The Ottawa Panel on March 2003

Statistic analysis Outcomes were continuous in nature . Where pooling of data from different trials was possible, these outcomes were analyzed by a weighted mean difference using a fixed effects model. For dichotomous data, relative risks were used. The effect measured in an individual trial is weighted by the amount of variability about the mean in that study for that outcome. Graphical data were used in cases where table data were not available.

Urgent Advice: Get Advice From 111 Now If:

Ice or Heat for Knee Arthritis?
  • your knee is very painful
  • you cannot move your knee or put any weight on it
  • your knee is badly swollen or has changed shape
  • you have a very high temperature, feel hot and shivery, and have redness or heat around your knee this can be a sign of infection

111 will tell you what to do. They can tell you the right place to get help if you need to see someone.

Go to or .

You can also go to an urgent treatment centre if you need to see someone now.

Theyre also called walk-in centres or minor injuries units.

You may be seen quicker than you would at A& E.

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Q: Which Will Work Better For My Painful Arthritic Joints Heat Or Cold

A: Applying heat or cold to a painful area is a simple, inexpensive method for relieving pain. Cold reduces swelling and numbs the area. Heat loosens up muscles, increases flexibility and increases circulation. For an acute injury, such as a pulled muscle or injured tendon, the usual recommendation is to start by applying ice to reduce inflammation and dull pain. Once inflammation has gone down, heat can be used to ease stiffness.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services.Policy

For a chronic pain condition, such as osteoarthritis, heat seems to work best. However, some people find that cold also helps to dull the pain.

So whats the answer? Try them both and use whichever works best for you.

Exercise is an important part of treatment for osteoarthritis. Heat and cold can also be used to make exercising a little easier. Try using heat before exercise to loosen up muscles and cold afterward to minimize any achiness.

For heat, soak in a warm bath, hot tub or whirlpool for about 20 minutes. Or take a warm shower. Dress warmly afterward to prolong the benefit. A heating pad is another good way to warm up an area. You can also buy moist heat pads. Or, heat a damp washcloth in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Test it to make sure its not too hot. Wrap it in a dry towel and apply it to the painful area.

What Are Heat And Ice Therapy

Simply put, heat therapy and ice therapy also known as thermal therapy mean applying something hot or cold to an affected area, which can affect how your body responds to pain, stiffness, and other arthritis symptoms.

Many arthritis patients swear by both heat and ice as part of their treatment plan whether for osteoarthritis, which is wear and tear to a joint that occurs when the cartilage breaks down, or inflammatory types of arthritis, which is when inflammatory chemicals from an overactive immune attack the joint.

For Eddie A., who has psoriatic arthritis, warm baths are a go-to part of his self-care routine. In fact, before he was diagnosed with PsA, he would find himself needing to sit in the tub for 30 to 45 minutes each morning before work just to loosen up my hands, he recalls.

Heat and ice are everything for me, Deanna K., who also has psoriatic arthritis, told CreakyJoints.

In its latest treatment guidelines for the management of osteoarthritis, the American College of Rheumatology conditionally recommends thermal interventions for osteoarthritis in the knee, hip, or hand, for example. In other words, theres likely little harm in trying it, but its not a magic bullet.

Even though heat and cold are opposites, they can both reduce inflammation and ease pain and stiffness around the joints. They do so in different ways and may have different uses. That said, there is little scientific research on when to use one form over another.

Recommended Reading: Arthritis Attack Symptoms

Here Are A Couple Of Examples For When To Use Cold Or Heat:

You have a knee bursitis injury that’s been on-going for quite some time.

You’re having a “good day” and decide to head out for some grocery shopping. You realize afterwards that was a bad idea because your bursitis is even more painful than the day before.

You should use COLD on your knee bursitis to stop further damage to your bursa and help ease the pain.

You have a painful case of bursitis in the wrist.

You’re in the kitchen making a cup of tea and reach in your cupboard to get a mug. You forgot about your injury because it’s no longer hurting, but oops… Reaching for that mug just reminded you about your wrist injury with a sharp pain / twinge. You stop and ask someone else to retrieve the mug for you .

Use cold after any sort of activity causes you on-going pain.

How Does Ice Work

Pin on Lower Back Pain

First, we need to understand how each of these treatment modalities work. Lets begin with ice.

Ice has long been thought of as natures natural pain killer. It has powerful effects on the human body when applied to the skin, some of which we have only recently begun to understand.

Ice has been used for many years as a form of pain relief, and there are accounts of ice being used to treat injuries in the earliest days of mankind.

Ice works through a couple of mechanisms:

  • Ice, when applied to the skin, produces an effect called vasoconstriction in the blood vessels which basically means the small vessels narrow and shut down blood flow to that area. Thats one of the reasons ice is so useful for swelling, such as after an ankle sprain.
  • Ice also has an effect on the nerves around the area, dampening their signals which means we feel naturally less pain with an injury.
  • Ice also encourages a flushing out of the potentially harmful chemicals around an injury site and reduces inflammation.

Also Check: Can You Get A Rash With Rheumatoid Arthritis

How To Safely Apply Ice And Heat

You can apply ice and heat in lots of ways. Our experts generally recommend up to 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off:

  • Ice packs: Frozen peas or corn, ice cubes in a baggie or frozen gel pack. You can ice beyond 48 hours, until swelling, tenderness or inflammation are gone.
  • Ice massage: Freeze water in a Dixie cup, peel back the top, and massage the tender area until its numb. .
  • Cold masks: Place a cold mask, available at drugstores, over your eyes or lay a towel soaked in cold water over your forehead and temples.
  • Moist heat: Enjoy a bath, shower, hot tub or whirlpool using warm, not hot, water .
  • Heat wraps: Drape a heat wrap, available at drugstores, around your neck like a scarf .
  • Heating pads: To avoid burns, remove heating pads if the area becomes uncomfortably warm.

Does Cold Therapy Help With Arthritis

Cold therapy for arthritis is a safe, well-tolerated, and effective treatment for arthritis pain and swelling, particularly in the joints. Applying ice to a swollen, stiff, or painful joint reduces blood flow to the area and can have a numbing sensation that reduces the pain associated with arthritis.

A 2019 study using rats found that applying cold therapy to a specific area of the body improved rheumatoid arthritis symptoms like inflammation and swelling. While its not definite whether these benefits transfer to humans, the study suggests a lot of promise for cryotherapy for arthritis as a way to manage discomfort at home.

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Depending On The Type Of Pain You Have One May Be Better Than The Other

Every pain is different. Each type can be a symptom of an underlying issue, an unpleasant sidekick to a condition, or an overall nuisance on everyday life. Treating pain can vary as well. While going straight to the doctor or trying an over-the-counter medication are options, another can be applying hot or cold compresses to the area where the pain is happening.

Cold Therapy Machines Are Effective For Arthritis

Heat therapy or cold therapy? Hot water bag or ice pack? What works in arthritis?

If your doctor prescribes the use of a cold therapy machine, you have a range of options available. Studies have confirmed their effectiveness for reducing pain and swelling over and above just cold therapy without compression. In another study, cold compression reduced patients reliance on injected pain medication after knee surgery, letting them progress to oral pain relief sooner than those who did not use cold compression.

Cryotherapy machines are a more expensive cold therapy for arthritis than a bag of frozen vegetables, but there are choices for every budget.

This system provides cold therapy and compression through anatomic wraps. It’s a motorized machine that comes in a compact and quiet unit, so it’s ideal for home use as well as facility use.

It’s designed to treat acute or post-surgical injuries to reduce swelling and pain, making it the best medical ice machine. Breg is the second-largest orthopedic brace provider in the US. Their mission is to elevate and simplify patient care, which they’ve done with this system.

This cryotherapy machine applies 6-8 hours of cold therapy to reduce inflammation and pain. It also reduces swelling by applying compression therapy. This is a highly effective arthritis cold compress.

The machine doesnt cool the water to ice temperature, so its kinder to the skin. Patients can use it to find relief for as long as they need.

Also Check: Rheumatoid Arthritis Knee Pain Relief

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