Pure Speculation About Why Heat Might Be Good For Trigger Points
Trigger points are probably aggravated by stress, and being warm is a pleasant and comforting sensation, as long as we arent overheated to begin with. But it probably goes beyond that
Relaxation reduces resting muscle tone. You can have tight muscles without actually being in frank spasm. There are many degrees of muscle tone between deep relaxation and a charlie horse. Many otherwise healthy people live in a state of uncomfortably high muscle tone, their muscles always a little clenched and exhausted, probably with some specific areas even worse from awkward working postures. This state is inherently uncomfortable, like being tired from exercise but without the endorphins and it may be fertile ground for trigger points. If so, any reduction in muscle tone may be quite helpful.
Electric heating pads have been around for as long as weve have any kind of electric appliances.
When To Use Caution
Paraffin wax treatments supply moist heat but overheating can cause burns.
Wonder if its safe to use ice when youre burning up with fever? Theres nothing wrong with using cold to bring down a fever, says Dr. Kriegler.
Is Tiger Balm Hot
Ointments and balms like Tiger Balm15, RUB A535, and Deep Heat are not really hot, but they do have two things in common with heat they feel hot, and they cause superficial capillaries to open up as wide as they can.
All these products contain a chemical irritant or rubefacient . Rubefacients feel hot because they give you a mild chemical burn! Capsaicin is the most classic rubefacient, the active ingredient in most of these products, and its literally spicy: its the same stuff that makes chilli peppers spicy, on your tongue or your back?
So rubefaciants piss off your skin, in other words.
And that is the only sense in which a rubefacient is heating anything. The product name Deep Heat always makes me roll my eyes, because a more truthful name would be Shallow Irritation! Chemicals that are mild skin irritants may make a patient feel warm, wrote Borrell et al, but they will not produce any in vivo temperature rises or any of the physiological effects of heat.16 The effect is just too superficial.
And is a mild chemical burn helpful in any way? The main rationale for a rubefacient is that its a counter-irritant a neurological distraction from your pain, which is the more general and well-known principle of diffuse noxious inhibitory control. Counter-irritation is a real thing, but its not a powerful thing. You could call it another tool for the pain treatment toolbox, but its not an impressive tool, maybe just like a small screwdriver or a tack hammer.
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Why Should I Use Moist Heat
Moist heat is a better choice if youre concerned about skin hydration because wont dehydrate your skin the way dry heat can. It also provides deeper heat into your skin and muscles to help relieve arthritis pain. Hydration improves your skins elasticity making moist heat a good choice for those with dry or aging skin.
Massage For Neck Arthritis
Massage feels good, and it may help to relax tight muscles and improve localized circulation to structures in your neck. Some research into specific types of massage has shown promise for reducing neck pain.
Cupping involves placing suction-type cups over your muscles. Some small studies have shown that cupping reduces symptoms in patients with chronic neck pain.
The American College of Rheumatology has published guidelines for the treatment of osteoarthritis and has stated that the research currently does not support the use of massage as an effective treatment for knee, hip, or hand arthritis.
While the guidelines are not specific to cervical spondylosis, it may be helpful to keep in mind there is little evidence that massage provides lasting relief for arthritis. Still, it may be one option to try when seeking out natural remedies for your neck pain.
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Heat And Cold Applications
The use of hot and cold applications in medicine history goes back to the ancient times. For example, Hippocrates, in his book titled Management of Acute Disease “, recommended the application of the hot water -filled caps made of clay or metal for the pain in the costal joints, and to place a soft material between skin and cap to prevent the burns. In addition, he mentioned the dry and heat applications that consisted of a heated corn in the blanket made of wool .Different types of materials related to general and local heat and cold applications have been produced by the medical technology since Hippocrates.
Patients should be considered before performing heat or cold applications. The application area should be checked for the tolerance of application, skin integrity of the patient, bleeding, and circulatory disorder, and the information about the application to the patient should be provided. The conditions in which heat application must be avoided are shown in Box 1.
Box 1. The conditions in which heat and cold applications must be avoided:
The conditions in which heat applications must be avoided [ 5
Applying Heat Vs Cold To An Arthritic Joint
Using heat and/or cold therapies on an arthritic joint is a simple, inexpensive alternative treatment that can help to alleviate pain, stiffness and swelling. Read:Alternative Treatments
Heat can relax muscles and help lubricate joints. Heat therapy may be used to relieve muscle and joint stiffness, help warm up joints before activity, or ease a muscle spasm.
Learn more: When and Why to Apply Cold to an Arthritic Joint
Alternating heat and cold. Some people alternate between heat and cold therapy. For example:
- A patient may be encouraged to use heat therapy to warm up a joint before physical therapy exercise and to use cold therapy after exercise.
- A person can use heat therapy in the morning to loosen up an osteoarthritic knee and use cold therapy to reduce swelling a few hours later. This process can be repeated throughout the day.
Cold therapy is recommended for certain types of arthritis that cause painful inflammation flares, such as gout and pseudogout. People with other types of arthritisincluding but not limited to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitismay benefit from both heat and cold therapy.
There are no universally accepted guidelines for when to use heat or cold therapy on osteoarthritic joints, and recommendations are mixed.1–6 People with osteoarthritis are advised to experiment with both heat and cold therapy to find what works best for them.7
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Ways To Apply Heat To An Arthritic Joint
Heat therapy is an effective, easy, and cheap option to ease arthritic joint pain. Heat therapy is applied to loosen stiff joints and tissue around the affected area. The heat should be warm not hot to avoid burns on the skin, increase in pain, and to provide effective constant temperature during the treatment. The therapy is beneficial when used before exercising or upon wakening in the morning. Listed below are reasons why heat therapy helps relieve arthritic pain.
- Heat treatment dilates the blood vessel, which increases circulation that transports the nutrients to affected muscle.
- The warmth decreases joint stiffness and increases flexibility in the joint.
- Once the joint is warm, movement produces fluid production which increases the lubrication that supplies the nutrients to the arthritic joint.
- The skin sensory receptors are stimulated to disrupt the pain signal from reaching the brain, while having a comfortable feeling.
- Most affective when heat therapy is combined with other treatments such as physical therapy and exercise.
Heat should be applied depending on the area of the affected joint. On minor injuries and joints closer to the skins surface, such as the ankle, you might only need to apply heat for 15-20 minutes. While applying heat for arthritis in the lower back or hip, a deeper injury or severe pain, may need an application of 30 minutes or longer.
- Heart disease
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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How To Treat Joint Pain
Whether to use a hot or cold treatment to provide relief depends on the source of the pain.
Heat increases blood flow to an affected area, which promotes healing and relaxes muscle spasms. Cold restricts blood flow, reducing swelling and inflammation. It also numbs pain around the affected area.
Generally speaking, ice is better for inflammatory pain. You can tell if a joint is inflamed if its red, swollen, or warm to the touch. Relieve inflamed joints by applying a gel ice pack, cold pack, or even a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a T-shirt to the injured area.
For joint pain not caused by inflammation such as osteoarthritis opt for heat. The Arthritis Foundation recommends placing a moist heating pad wrapped in a layer of cloth on the affected joint or soaking it in a warm bath. Heat treatments also can be effective for rheumatoid arthritis when youre not having a flare-up.
Which Types Of Heat Therapy Help Arthritis Pain
You can choose from the following popular types of heat therapy for arthritis pain:
- disposable heat patches or belts available at most drugstores
- hot packs
- moist heating pad
- therapeutic mixture of paraffin and mineral oil
- warm bath
- warm whirlpool or hot tub
- warm, moist towel or cloth
You may also sit on a stool that has rubber tips for safety while letting the warm shower hit the affected area. The constant heat flowing on the arthritic joint or pain site helps to keep pain minimal and allows for easier movement.
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Heat Acts As A Soother For Painful Joints
Heat also has a very soothing effect on the body and mind. A body which feels cold can quickly tighten up, this often serves to intensify pain. Heat, on the other hand, can provide a calming and comforting effect, as well as bringing a measure of relief to the area of pain.
Makes Exercise More Possible
For a person suffering from arthritis, the idea of engaging in exercise can seem like a mission impossible. Granted, the doctor may have told you that it will be of much help, but even the thought of it may make you cringe in pain.
Again, this is where heat therapy can really come into its own. By applying a heating pad to the area of the body most affected by arthritis it is possible to prepare the body for exercise. The heat can make the body feel more limber and ready for a session of appropriate exercise.
Using heat in this way can provide a long-term benefit. As the heat therapy helps the person to exercise, their body can become stronger more flexible and ultimately, in less pain.
Dos And Donts While Using Heat Or Cold For Arthritis
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Strengthen The Outer Thighs
Building up the muscles in your outer thighs will improve the health of your hip joint in the long run. Lie on the pain-free side and lift the affected leg about six inches high in the air. Hold the position for 2-3 minutes and lower the leg. You may start with one set of 10 repetitions and build it up to three sets of 10 repetitions a day .
How Often Should I Use Ice Or Heat For Joint Pain
As long as youre being smart about which therapy you use and careful about how to use it, Dr. Torres-Panchame says they are okay to use repetitively throughout the day.
It doesnt need to be a formal sit-on-the-couch-with-your-leg-up type of treatment. You may find youre already benefitting from thermal therapy without even realizing it. If taking a hot shower or bath every morning is very soothing to your joints, then youre already reaping the benefits of heat therapy.
Other patients say that washing their hands with hotter-than-usual water is a quick way to sooth their hands throughout the day. Some people report that they actually like washing dishes after meals because its an easy way to use heat therapy.
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When To Use Heat For Joint Pain
Heat tends to be more beneficial for the types of everyday joint pain, such as stiffness, that people with arthritis experience. You can use dry heat, like from a heating pad, or moist heat, like from a moist towel warmed up in the microwave for 20 to 60 seconds. Moist heat tends to transfer through the skin more quickly and efficiently, Dr. Torres-Panchame says.
How to Use Heat for Joint Pain
As a guideline, dont apply heat to an area of your body for more than 20 minutes at a time or you could risk burning your skin. As with ice, dont put a heated object on your skin without some kind of protective barrier, like a cloth or towel. Heat also can follow ice therapy once the cold brings down swelling and inflammation, Dr. Torres-Panchame says.
As with ice, being careful and attentive is important to prevent injury. If something feels too warm, then probably its too warm, Dr. Bose says. So the temperature needs to be comfortable, ideally, not too hot, because it can burn your skin.
Types of Heat Therapy
Safety with Heat Therapy
Check your skin after five minutes to make sure there are no signs of burns and check again a few times while using heat, Dr. Torres-Panchame says. If you start seeing blisters forming, that is too hot. You need to remove the heat or else you can cause skin damage, she said.
This is especially important for people who have neuropathy or any other condition that makes them less sensitive to touch and temperature.
Icing Or Heating Joints Can Provide Pain Relief And Reduce Swelling But Knowing Whether To Go Cold Or Hot And Knowing How To Use Each Form Of Thermal Therapy Can Be Tricky
Sometimes old-fashioned home remedies are just what the doctor ordered. Take using ice or heat for joint pain, for example. When your knee or your shoulder feels stiff, sore, or has a burning sensation, cooling down or warming up the affected area can help provide relief.
Its more of symptomatic relief, says Nilanjana Bose, MD, a board-certified rheumatologist with the Rheumatology Center of Houston. The pain may remain but because gives symptomatic relief, over time that will help, in conjunction with other medicines, heal the area.
But knowing when to use ice and when to use heat for pain relief can be confusing, especially if youre dealing with an ache or issue that youve never dealt with before. Although you should see a health care provider if youre experiencing consistent pain, its helpful to know what treatments can help provide immediate relief, especially if you arent able to see your doctor right away.
So, the question remains: when should you use ice versus heat to ease joint pain? Well, it mostly depends on the cause and type of joint pain youre experiencing, though personal preferences matter, too. After all, nobody knows your own body like you do.
Below, we provide information on when to use heat or ice for joint pain relief, as well as some tips to make your treatment more effective.
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Neck Pain From Sleeping Is Manageable
Neck pain from sleeping can be your worst nightmare in the morning. This can be caused by sleeping on your stomach, sleeping with your hand placed on the forehead, or having pillow problems like stiff or thick pillows cramping your comfort level during sleep.
Luckily, sleep posture matters. Try sleeping on your back or side, or sleep without a pillow. Sleeping without a pillow is known to benefit the neck, spine, and face. At the same time, it might also improve the quality of your sleep.
Other ways to relieve neck pain include neck exercises, showers or baths, applying heat or cold, acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic care, and an anti-inflammatory diet.
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