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Does Ice Help Arthritis Pain

What Causes Arthritis Pain

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Many different diseases and conditions cause chronic pain. One of the most common is arthritis, a group of diseases that cause inflammation of the joints. Other common types of chronic pain are backache, muscle pain, headache and sore feet.

Arthritis pain is caused by:

  • inflammation, the process that causes the redness and swelling in your joints
  • damage to joint tissues caused by the disease process or from wear and tear
  • muscle strain caused by overworked muscles attempting to protect your joints from painful movements
  • fatigue caused by the disease process which can make your pain seem worse and harder to handle

Can Hot Baths Or Spas Help Arthritis Pain

Many people with arthritis find relief from pain and stiffness with hot baths or spas. The moist heat increases muscle relaxation, boosts blood supply to the site of pain, and relieves rigidity and spasms in the muscles. But avoid hot tubs or spas if you have high blood pressure or heart disease, or if you are pregnant.

Cold Therapy For Joint Pain

When arthritis pain causes a sensation of burning, cool it off with cold applying an ice pack or even a bag of frozen vegetables can help to numb areas affected by joint pain. Cold therapy can reduce inflammation, a major cause of arthritis joint pain and stiffness. Placing a cold pack on a swollen joint can also help bring it back down to size, which will also lessen joint pain.

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Using Heat Or Cold Remedies For Arthritis

A major concern that arises is how exactly should one apply these methods or how often can they be used? We recommend using moist heat or ice packs in any of the above-mentioned forms at least twice a day for significant relief from your pain and stiffness.

In a research conducted at the American College of Rheumatology, they stated that five to 10-minute ice massages applied on the pain site within the time span of first 48 hours of pain onset can provide relief effectively. So can heat treatment, which relaxes the muscles in the body. Heat packs should preferably be used for pain that lasts longer than 48 hours.

Emotional And Social Effects On Arthritis Pain

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Your fears about pain, previous experiences with pain and your attitude about your condition can affect how you react to pain and how much pain you feel. Your cultural and religious background and the way people around you react to pain may also affect how you react to pain.

In addition, the emotional ups and downs of arthritis may affect your pain. If you feel depressed and stressed, your pain may seem worse. You may get caught in a cycle of pain, depression and stress that makes everything seem harder to handle.

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Where Are Steroid Injections Given

Its not like getting a flu shot, where you roll up your sleeve and present your arm. The steroid injection is given in the place where the pain radiates from. Locations such as the CMC , wrist, elbow, shoulder, knee, ankle, and big toe are common locations. For the spine and hip, doctors often use imaging, such as ultrasound for precise placement of the injection. This can help improve the accuracy of where the injection is placed, which can improve the effectiveness.

How To Ease Arthritis Pain At Home Easily

Warm shower in the morning helps ease stiffness in your joints. At night, you can use heating pads or hot packs for about an hour to keep your joints loose. Cold compresses also help in relieving joint pain. Wrap an ice pack in a cloth and apply it to painful joints for quick relief.

SNS | New Delhi | February 9, 2022 1:47 pm

Arthritis pain

Blame it on your lifestyle, environmental risks, or genetics, certain diseases can become inevitable and could even cause disability. One such disease, arthritis, has become a common illness and could target people at a younger age.

This painful disease is caused by degenerative conditions which are marked by inflammation in the joints that causes pain and stiffness. There are medications that can help in treating arthritis but these conventional methods are strong, immune-suppressing, and could even damage the gut.

Moreover, they could temporarily relieve the symptoms and are unable to address the root cause. But fret not. If you or your family member is suffering from this painful disease, heres help. We have mentioned a few natural ways that will help in reducing the symptoms and can gradually treat arthritis.

Here are some of the remedies:

Epsom salt bath

Peppermint and eucalyptus oils

Apple cider vinegar

Ginger and turmeric tea

Hot and cold compresses

Heat enhances circulation, while cold is best for acute pain.

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How Cold Therapy Works For Arthritis Pain

Cold constricts the blood vessels in the muscles, which decreases blood flow to the joint area to help reduce swelling and inflammation, explains Eric Robertson, PT, DPT, director of Kaiser Permanente Northern California Graduate Physical Therapy Education and associate professor of clinical physical therapy at the University of Southern California. Cold therapy also slows the transmission of pain signals to the brain, adds Robertson, who serves as a spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association.

What it wont do is cool down your body: One misconception about cold therapy is that the effects can reach deep into the joint or muscles, says Robertson. While your skin may feel very cold to the touch, your body is remarkably efficient at maintaining its internal temperature, so cold therapy really only affects tissues near the surface like skin, fat, or small portions of muscles.

What Does Cortisone Do

Should you use heat or ice for joint pain?

Cortisone, also known as a corticosteroid or a steroid, is a hormone your body naturally produces via the adrenal glands. When delivered as a medication, corticosteroids reduce the activity of your immune system, which relieves inflammation and pain for people with different kinds of arthritis .

Corticosteroids comes in many different forms, which vary by how long they stay in your body, how easily they dissolve, and how quickly they take effect. They can either be delivered locally , or systemically . Systemic corticosteroids are usually taken orally or as injections into a vein or muscle. Local corticosteroids for arthritis can be given as an injection into a joint for other types of health issues, they can also be delivered as skin creams, eye drops, or ear drops.

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Should I Use Heat Or Cold For My Arthritis Pain

Its a common question when trying to find relief for your symptoms- should I use heat or cold for my arthritis pain? The answer to this question simply is there are therapeutic benefits to using both hot and cold treatments to help address your pain symptoms, especially the pain associated with arthritis. Both heat and cold treatments can stimulate the body to heal itself. The trick is knowing when to reach for the heating pad or the ice pack or both and how long to use each treatment to alleviate the pain being experienced.

Heat is an effective treatment for loosening stiff joints and soothing tired muscles. It loosens the body up prior to exercise and can help with relaxation and reducing muscle spasms. It also increases blood flow to an area and promotes healing. Heat however is not recommended on swollen, red or irritated joints, that is where a cold pack will be helpful. Cold treatments are effective for acute pain when constricting blood flow aids in decreasing inflammation and swelling.

Cold treatments include applying a frozen gel pack or a frozen bag of vegetables to the affected area, helping to reduce inflammation, leading to joint pain. Switching between hot and cold therapy can offer excellent arthritis pain management benefits, as long as each one is used appropriately.

When To Not Use Heat Or Cold For Your Lower Back

There are some conditions and situations that should not be treated with heat or cold therapy. For example:

  • These therapies must not be used on open wounds, bleeds, or when there is any fluid oozing out of the painful region.
  • If you have certain chronic conditions such as multiple sclerosis, poor circulation, spinal cord injuries, diabetes mellitus, and/or rheumatoid arthritis, it is advised to avoid heat therapy. Heat in these conditions may cause excessive burns, skin ulceration, and/or increased inflammation.1

It is also advisable to avoid laying directly on the heat source due to the risk of burns, skin damage, or permanent changes in skin color. A protective barrier such as a cloth or towel may be used between your skin and the source of heat.

In general, many people feel heat therapy works better to relieve their lower back pain compared to cold. Also, taking oral pain-relieving drugs while using these therapies may have an added effect on the overall pain relief.2

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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.

How Can Weather Can Affect Arthritis

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In 2019, the Cloudy with a Chance of Pain study, led by consultant rheumatologist Professor Will Dixon at the University of Manchester, assessed how weather affected more than 13,000 people in the UK with long-term health conditions, including arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Participants used a smartphone app to record their daily symptoms and thing that affected their pain levels (such as sleep patterns and daily exercise, while GPS on their phone provided accurate weather reporting.

The study, funded by Versus Arthritis, found that damp and windy days with low atmospheric pressure increased the chances of experiencing more pain than normal by around 20 per cent. Barometric pressure may affect your joints more than humidity, rainfall and temperature.

According to the Met Office, high pressure tends to cause fine, warm weather, while low pressure can lead to prolonged rainfall and flooding.

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Hot And Cold Treatments

Using either heat or cold treatments can reduce the stiffness and pain of arthritis.

Cold packs numb the sore area. They are especially good for severe joint pain and swelling caused by a flare . Heat treatments relax your muscles. You can use dry heat methods such as a heating pad or heat lamp or moist heat methods, such as a bath or hydrocollator pack.

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.

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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.

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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.

Heat Therapy For Joint Pain

Sciatica – Does Applying ICE Help Relieve The Pain?

After a long day, soaking in a steaming shower or bathtub, sipping a cup of hot tea, or cozying up in a warm robe can make you feel comforted and soothed. There’s a reason you reach for heat when you need relief from pain or stress: Heat is relaxing. Stiff, tense, and sore muscles can be relaxed and relieved with a little heat, and joints affected by arthritis pain are no different. Not only does heat relax muscles, it also stimulates blood flow and improves circulation, helps increases range of motion, and reduces stiffness in painful joints.

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Dos And Donts While Using Heat Or Cold For Arthritis

  • Never apply heat treatment for more than 10 minutes at a time.
  • Cold treatment is not recommended to be used for more than 20 minutes at a time.
  • Be extremely careful while using a hot or cold bag.
  • Keep the temperatures at check to avoid any accidents.
  • If your body does not respond well to heat or cold treatment, better check and consult with a doctor.
  • The Benefits Of Vitamin D

    Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, teeth and muscles, as well as your immune system. You get most of your vitamin D from direct sunlight when your skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays.

    According to Cancer Research UK, the length of time you need in the sun to make enough vitamin D depends on skin type, time of day or year, and where you are in the world.

    There are no set guidelines on how much time is needed in the sun, but those with lighter skins may need just 10 minutes of sunlight every day in the UK, while those with darker skin may need around 25 minutes.

    There are guidelines on vitamin D supplementation for everyone in the UK, says Professor Walker-Bone. But if youre worried about your vitamin D levels and joint pain, its important to get advice from your GP or rheumatology team. They can check your vitamin D levels, ideally in the winter months when they are likely to be lower.

    Some people find their psoriasis gets better when theyre out in the sun, but more research is needed to see if sunlight helps psoriatic arthritis.

    Natural sunlight can help skin psoriasis, but doesnt seem to help joint symptoms, says Professor WalkerBone. Many people with psoriatic arthritis dont have very bad skin, so PUVA treatment cant help.

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    When To Use Ice For Joint Pain

    For the most part, ice is appropriate to use within 48 hours of an acute injury or a flare-up of joint pain that comes with inflammation, experts explain. Examples include tendinitis, bursitis, soft tissue injuries, and inflamed joints, Dr. Bose says.

    How to Use Ice for Joint Pain

    The rule of thumb for icing down an inflamed area is up to 10 minutes on, followed by about 10 minutes off, several times if needed. Dont put ice or a cold pack directly on the skin, unless the cold pack has a built-in barrier, to prevent skin damage. Pay attention to how your body is responding to the cold. Listen to your body, Dr. Bose says. I tell my patients: Use an ice pack, put it on the knee, and once it starts getting uncomfortable, give it a break.

    Types of Ice Therapy

    You have a lot of options when it comes to icing a joint. At-home solutions like filling a plastic bag with ice cubes and a little water, using a bag of frozen vegetables, or putting a damp towel in the freezer are time-tested for a reason. You can purchase gel packs and other types of cold packs at drugstores or supermarkets. Whatever method you choose, use something large enough to cover the whole area where the pain is located, Dr. Smith says.

    Safety with Ice Therapy

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