Types Of Heating Pads For Arthritic Pain
Heating pads come in all sorts of styles shapes and sizes. Depending on the body part, you can buy a heat pad suitable to treat that one particular area. Below you can find links to some of the best heating pads to treat various ares of the body.
- Neck & Shoulder Infrared Heating Devices Good for people with Cervical osteoarthritis also known as neck arthritis.
- Moist Heat Therapy Pads These heat pads and wraps offer a better solution than traditional heat pads as they can provide steam as a treatment. This will also limit that chances of the pad burning the skin.
- Microwaveable pads Not everyone prefers an electric heating pad. Sometimes its easier to throw a quality heat pad into the microwave and get short bursts of pain relief.
Tips For Using Heat Therapy
Heat therapy needs to be warm rather than too hot. The Arthritis Foundation recommends the following tips for using different types of heat therapy:
- Take a hot shower or bath in the morning or before exercising to help reduce stiffness, warm up the body, prepare the joints, and help reduce the likelihood of injury.
- Take a warm bath at the end of the day to ease the joints after a day of activity.
- Avoid using heat on any injury or during a flare-up.
- If any redness, swelling, or bruising is present, use cold therapy instead for a few days until it subsides.
- If people have neuropathy or another condition that makes them less sensitive to temperature changes, they should check their skin every 5 minutes to check that it is not burning or blistering.
People may also be incorporating heat therapy into their day without realizing it. Taking a hot shower in the morning, washing their hands in moderately hot water, or washing up can all be ways to soothe the joints throughout the day.
Tips For Using Cold Therapy For Ra
- Use a bag of frozen peas, wrap ice in a thin towel, or use commercially available cold gel packs for cold therapy.
- Avoid applying ice or cold packs directly to the skin use a towel or cloth between the cold device and the skin.
- To avoid frostbite, do not apply cold for more than 15 minutes at a time.
- Allow your skin to return to normal temperature and color before using cold again.
- Dont alternate hot and cold without a break. The Arthritis Foundation recommends waiting a couple of hours between sessions before switching to the other.
If you’re using one of these hot or cold methods and it doesn’t bring relief, or it seems to make the rheumatoid arthritis symptoms worse, talk to your doctor.
Additional reporting by Meryl Davids Landau and Jennifer Geddes.
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What Is Arthritis Back Pain
Arthritis is caused by inflammation of the joints and it affects every single joint in the human body. Once diagnosed with arthritis, a person can only slow down the effect and reduce the symptoms. This situation cant be cured.
Almost 28% of the US adults are affected by this condition. Arthritis causes immobilization and reduces flexibility.
Depending upon the body part affected, there are over 100 different types of arthritis. Some of the most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, Polymyalgia rheumatic, fibromyalgia, Enteropathic arthritis, Cervical spondylosis that affect various parts of the body.
One of the common arthritis is spinal arthritis that specifically affects the spine. One of the common symptoms is an intense back pain.
Other types of arthritis such as osteoarthritis, neck arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can also cause back pain. So, it is important to properly diagnose your symptoms before taking treatment.
*All individuals are unique. Your results can and will vary.
Use Cold First And Then Apply Heat For Acute Back Pain
When your back pain is acute and/or occurs due to a direct injury, use cold therapy first.2 Lowering the body temperature will help constrict the blood vessels, reduce swelling, decrease inflammation, and cause a numbing effect.1,3
See Ice Packs for Back Pain Relief
Once the inflammation has subsided, use heat therapy. When you apply heat, it improves the flexibility of soft tissues, movement of muscles, and overall functioning of the back. The local warmth stimulates blood circulation in your lower back, which in turn brings healing nutrients to the injured tissues.
It is also advised to continue using heat therapy intermittently for several hours or days in order to improve tissue healing and prevent recurrence of pain.2
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Ice Your Back Immediately After Exercise To Reduce Muscle Soreness
Muscle soreness and back pain can occur from extensive workouts, trying a new type of work out, or even from excessive walking. Soreness from these activities may start on the first day but typically continues to peak until the third day.4 This phenomenon is called delayed onset muscle soreness and can cause significant inflammation and pain in your back.
When you have back pain from exercise or exertion, use cold therapy immediately after the activity to reduce tissue damage, inflammation, and pain. After a 24-hour period, use heat therapy to encourage tissue healing.4
When And Why To Apply Heat To An Arthritic Joint
Heat therapy is an easy, inexpensive, and medication-free way to relieve some types of arthritis stiffness and pain. Heat therapy can:
- Encourage the healing of damaged tissue. Warmth causes the blood vessels of the muscles to dilate, which increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles.
- Stimulate joint fluid. Warming the joint, followed by gentle bending and flexing, can spur joint fluid production, which increases joint lubrication and the delivery of nutrients to joint tissue.
- Distract the brain from the pain. The comforting warmth can stimulate sensory receptors in the skin and decrease the transmissions of pain signals to the brain.
For many people, heat therapy works best when combined with other treatment modalities, such as physical therapy and exercise.
See Ways to Get Exercise When You Have Arthritis
Hot vs. warm?Heat therapy should be warm, not hot. Heat therapy should not be painful or burn the skin. In addition, effective heat therapy provides a constant temperature for an extended period of time.
How long should heat be applied?Application time depends on where the pain is located. To be effective, the heat must penetrate down into the affected muscles and joint tissues. Too short of a session will warm only the skin and not the affected tissues.
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Precautions And Safety Tips
Heating pads are effective for pain management, but they can be dangerous when used improperly. Here are a few safety tips to avoid injury.
- Dont place a heating pad or heated gel pack directly on your skin. Wrap it in a towel before applying to skin to avoid burns.
- Dont fall asleep using a heating pad.
- When using a heating pad, start on the lowest level and slowly increase the heat intensity.
- Dont use a heating pad that has a cracked or broken electrical cord.
- Dont apply a heating pad to damaged skin.
Heat Therapy Speeds Up The Healing Process
Heat therapy promotes healing by increasing blood flow to the muscles in the lower back. Increased blood flow delivers more oxygen, white blood cells, platelets, and essential nutrients all of which help repair damaged tissues heal.
Sensory nerves respond to applied heat by releasing chemical messengers that dilate local blood vessels and enhance the speed of blood flow.1 Both the applied heat and the increased blood flow help the skin temperature rise to match the bodys core temperature. After the skin reaches the core temperature, the blood absorbs excess heat and protects the skin from burns.2
Heat therapy dilates blood vessels , which increases blood flow. This improves blood circulation in the painful or stiff area.
Heat also transfers from the skin surface deep into the muscles, and improves blood circulation into the muscles. In this process, the heat has to cross the layer of fat right under the skin, which may be an obstacle to effective heat therapy in people who have a thicker fat layer.3,4
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Tips For Using Heat Therapy For Ra
- Use safe heat sources that dont let the temperature get scalding, including hot towels, hot tubs, showers, or baths, hot water bottles, microwaveable hot pads, and electric heating pads.
- To prevent burns, do not use heat for excessive lengths of time .
- When using heating pads or hot water bottles, place a towel or cloth on your skin first, to prevent direct contact with the heat source.
- Be careful to check your skin for redness often while applying heat, and remove the heat source if redness occurs.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using a paraffin bath device.
Tips On Using A Heating Pad For Arthritis
It certainly seems clear that people suffering from arthritis would do well to consider the option of using a heating pad to provide a measure of pain relief. However, how can they get the most of this form of therapy?
Firstly, it is important to make sure that you use the heating pad in a safe way. The last thing that you want to do is cause yourself a nasty burn to worry about! Be sure to protect your skin while using the heating pad, you can usually determine the best way to do this by closely following the instructions which come with your heating pad.
Because traditional heat pads heat from the skin inwards, be careful to not have the temperature too high and left on the skin for too long. This can cause the skin to dry out and burn. This is why a infrared or a heating pad with moisture is recommended.
In addition, get into the habit of using the heating pad on a regular basis. Your primary healthcare practitioner should be able to advise you on how often you should use the heating pad, as well as the duration of time for each use.
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Using Heat Therapy For Injury Surgery Exercise And Arthritis
Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a traveling, board-certified surgeon in Allentown, PA. His website is www.DrPhilZeltzman.com. He is the co-author of Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound .
- Hold the pack in place on the affected body part for about 15 minutes, or until the skin feels warm to the touch
- Heat therapy can be repeated every 6 to 8 hours.
It is not unusual for your dog to fall asleep during the heat therapy process, which shows how soothing this treatment can be. If your dog displays any signs of discomfort during the therapy such as excessive movement, growling or biting, stop the treatment immediately and contact your veterinarian. Heat therapy is a simple, yet effective way to help your dog feel better after an injury, surgery or exercise. At the same time, it will increase comfort, relaxation, and happiness for both your dog and yourself.Questions to ask your veterinarian
- Should I use heat therapy on my dog?
- Which exact protocol would you suggest?
- Which heating device should I use on my particular dog?
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian — they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
Should I Use Heat Or Ice For Acute Injuries
If the new injury is red, swollen, or inflamed, then cooling the injury may help prevent inflammation. For example, if your pain stems from a muscle injury, treat it immediately with RICE — rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Rest the injured body part and then apply ice. You can use an ice pack or a pack of frozen vegetables or fruit for 20 minutes. Then take it off for 20 minutes. Add compression with a firm elastic bandage. Elevate the injured part to keep swelling to a minimum.
Before using moist heat or ice therapy, be sure your skin is dry and free from cuts and sores. If you have visible skin damage, don’t use cold or heat. And always protect your skin with a towel. After using heat or cold, gently move the arthritic joint to reduce stiffness.
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Risk Of Bias In Included Studies
The quality of the studies was assessed by the two independent reviewers . The quality assessment addressed the extent to which the RCT design, data collection and statistical analysis minimized or avoided biases in its treatment comparisons . A validated scale was used to perform the quality assessment. This scale includes items pertaining to description of randomisation, appropriateness of blinding, dropouts and consideration of withdrawals and followups with regard to possible effects on data analysis, with a possible total score of 5. Differences in scoring were resolved by consensus. A third reviewer was consulted when necessary. The median methodological quality of these RCTs was 2. No trial scored full points for randomisation, nor for double blinding, and only one reported withdrawals or dropouts.
Heat Reduces Reliance On Medications
Heat therapy is more effective and more cost-friendly than over-the-counter pain medications.12 The low risk of side-effects is one of the key advantages of heat therapy. Low back pain tends to arise frequently, so treatment with pain medications for every episode of pain may lead to drug dependence. Heat therapy offers a valuable alternative to drug therapy for chronic low back pain.
Heat application is the treatment of choice for individuals who desire a natural form of pain relief that simultaneously acts on multiple levels healing the body, soothing the muscles, facilitating exercise, and relieving stress.
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When To Use Heat With An Older Dog:
Heat should be used for chronic conditions and should be avoided after acute injury, immediately post-surgery or flare-up of an injury or osteoarthritis. It should be used for 15 20 minutes over the affected area. Ensure the heat pack is not too hot to avoid burns. You need to ensure you check your dogs skin to ensure it is only just warm. Never force your older dog to have a heat pack if they dont like it. Heat can be used once to three times per day in colder weather.
Range Of Lower Back Problems That Can Benefit From Heat And Cold Therapy
Heat and /or cold therapy is beneficial either as a primary or adjunctive therapy, but people often overlook this treatment because its simple, inexpensive, and readily available. The following common lower back conditions may benefit from heat or cold therapy:
- Lower back pain from common conditions, such as herniated or degenerated discs, spinal stenosis , or spondylolisthesis
Read more about Causes of Lower Back Pain
- Direct lower back injury from falls, sprains, sports injuries , or collisions1
- Pulled back muscle due to excessive strain or force leading to overstretching of the muscle fibers, such as from lifting weights1
- Exercise-induced muscle soreness, such as a from trying a new exercise, exercising without an initial period of warming up, or overdoing a specific exercise1
Always use heat and cold therapy intermittently, for 15 to 20 minutes, with a 2-hour break in between to avoid skin and nerve damage.
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When Should You Use Heat
When you use a heating pad or hot water bottle, blood flood increases. This makes it easier for oxygen and nutrients to reach your painful joints. Heat helps loosen tight muscles and joints and relieves pain and muscle spasms. If you have swelling, it’s best to use ice for 24 hours, then switch to heat. If swelling isn’t a problem, it’s fine to use heat when you first notice knee pain.
Although a heating pad can help you feel better, it can cause burns if you use it too long or the setting is too high. Don’t use the heating pad for more than 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Stop using the heating pad sooner if it worsens your pain or your skin begins to look very red.
If you don’t have a heating pad or hot water bottle, wet a washcloth, wring it out, then microwave it for 30 seconds. You can microwave the washcloth for a few seconds longer if it isn’t quite warm enough.
A hot shower or bath is also a good choice if you have aching muscles or joints due to an injury, chronic low back pain or arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation® suggests keeping the water temperature between 92 and 100 degrees when you take a shower.
When To Use Heat Vs Ice
Conventional wisdom says this:
- Cold therapy reduces blood flow to the area, which can decrease swelling and inflammation. This can be especially soothing if you have an acute injury say, your joints hurt worse than usual because you were gardening all weekend.
- Heat therapy increases blood flow to the area, which helps blood vessels dilate, drawing in more oxygen and nutrients. This can be especially soothing for stiff joints, especially for people who experience morning stiffness because of arthritis.
As this Cleveland Clinic article says, 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.
If youre choosing between ice and heat, for the most part, it really just depends on what type of problem youre dealing with, says Brett Smith, DO, a rheumatologist at Blount Memorial Physicians Group in Alcoa, Tennessee. Youre trying to get the opposite effect of whats going on. If youre physically swollen, you want to try and cool that down to allow you to have less pain. If youre not physically swollen, then youre trying to heat it up to increase blood flow to help with the healing process.
Both ice and heat therapy may decrease the transmission of pain signals to the brain, which can also help with pain relief.
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