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
Use Heat To Treat Chronic Stiffness In Arthritic Joints
Heat encourages blood vessels near the surface of the skin to expand, increasing blood flow and relaxing muscles. When you wake up with sore joints, or if you feel stiff after a period of inactivity, a heating pad or a hot shower or bath will stimulate blood flow to your joints and help to make them feel more limber. A heat treatment is also a great way to prepare arthritic joints for exercise or activity.
Criteria For Considering Studies For This Review
Types of studies
According to an a priori protocol, eligible studies included randomized controlled trials and controlled clinical trials .
Types of participants
Only trials with participants aged 18 years or more with clinical and/or radiological confirmation of OA of the knee were included. Diagnosis of knee OA was defined using the ACR criteria of classification of OA of the knee . These criteria include knee pain, age over 50, joint stiffness, crepitus, bony tenderness and/or enlargement, osteophytes and no palpable warmth.
Types of interventions
Interventions using heat or cold therapy only were included in this review. Trials that compared thermotherapy with standard treatment and/or placebo were included. Concurrent therapies such as exercise were accepted. Trials comparing head to head therapies, such as two different types of diathermy, were not included in this review, but will be included in a future review on electrotherapeutic measures.
Types of outcome measures
The primary outcome measure was pain relief according to the Outcome Measures in Rheumatology Clinical Trials . In addition, the other outcome measures from OMERACT 3 were also included for potential analysis. These were change in function, number of tender joints, number of swollen joints, and patient and physician global perspective on disease.
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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.
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When you are dealing with bone, muscle, or joint pain, it can affect your daily life. UPMC Orthopaedic Care can help. As a national leader in advanced orthopaedic care, we diagnose and treat a full range of musculoskeletal disorders, from the acute and chronic to the common and complex. We provide access to UPMCs vast network of support services for both surgical and nonsurgical treatments and a full continuum of care. Our multidisciplinary team of experts will work with you to develop the treatment plan that works best for you. Our care team uses the most innovative tools and techniques to provide better outcomes. We also are leaders in research and clinical trials, striving to find better ways to provide our patients care. With locations throughout our communities, you can find a provider near you.
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How To Use Ice And Heat To Relieve & Treat Your Hip
The most common soft tissue hip injuries are debilitating. At a minimum, they will impede your ability to extend and contract your hip joint. Being unable to move your legs in these ways will majorly interfere with everyday tasks like getting dressed, driving, working or reaching for anything.
When it comes to using ice and heat for treating a bad hip, its important to keep in mind that both ice AND heat are very effective natural ways to relieve pain and heal. Most people will think one is better over the other from their own experience or what a doctor / physical therapist has previously told them specific to a previous treatment plan.
The only difference between using ice and heat is that 1 is better for you at a specific time in your healing cycle. Ice is used first, right when you get your injury, to decrease pain / swelling and inflammation. Once swelling has reduced, we then focus on heat based treatments to increase blood flow circulation in the area to stimulate the bodys healing response.
Each temperature applicaion has its own unique benefits for the hip , and when used together, they provide a powerful advantage to long-term soft tissue health. You may already know that ice or heat feels better on your hip, and this could influence your decision too.
Using Both Heat And Ice
In some situations, applying both ice and heat to your joint may be helpful. Called contrast therapy, this treatment involves alternating between icing and heating a joint. While this option has traditionally been utilized after exercise or participating in a sporting event to aid in recovery, it may be helpful for more chronic conditions as well. This style of treatment can be performed using hot and cold packs or by alternately submerging the knee in hot and cold water.
While individuals who received contrast therapy subjectively reported less overall soreness and muscular fatigue, the research is still mixed. The current evidence is lacking on whether this treatment is helpful in managing the pain associated with a knee injury or in reducing your inflammation levels.
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Whats Better To Treat Your Hip Muscle/tendon Injury: Ice Or Heat
Ice and heat are the best treatment combination for you if:
- Youre looking for relief from bursitis, tendinopathy, muscle strain/spasm, minor tears, or an impingement and want to boost the natural capability of your body to heal soft tissue injury.
- You want to minimize the cost of injections, medications, hospital visits. Perhaps you want to try and avoid surgery an option you want to avoid if at all possible.
- You want to reduce the risk of worsening the injury.
- You want to reduce the odds of a future re-injury, pain, tear or swelling in your hip or lower back.
- You want to control your own treatment and healing at home, on your own time.
- Youre looking for a tried and tested method of healing that has been in use for centuries as fundamental conservative treatment recommendations. Physicians still prescribe heat and ice ALL THE TIME for treatment of soft tissue injuries.
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 hip or lower back.
Heat Vs Cold Therapy For Joint Pain
Applying heat or cold can offer an inexpensive and easy way to relieve arthritis-related aches and pains. However, there can be confusion about when to use heat versus cold therapy. Heat can relax muscles and improve joint lubrication. Heat therapy is typically used to relieve muscle and joint stiffness, help warm-up joints prior to activity, and/or relieve muscle spasm. Cold therapy can help reduce the inflammation, swelling, and pain related to joint arthritis. Cold application is also often recommended for acute bone and joint injuries.
Some patients may even get best results by alternating between heat and cold therapy. For example, heat may be utilized in the morning to âloosen-upâ stiff arthritic joints and cold application subsequently used later in the day to reduce swelling. This alternating process can be repeated throughout the day for pain relief.
Most often, cold therapy is recommended with certain types of painful arthritis inflammation flares, such as seen with gout and pseudogout. Other types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis, may benefit from both heat and cold therapy. No specific universal guidelines exist for when to use heat or cold therapy for joint pain, and a quick web search will yield varying recommendations. People with arthritis joint pain are advised to experiment with both heat and cold therapy to find which works best for their individual symptoms.
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When To Seek Treatment For Your Arthritis
Arthritis doesnt have to spell the end of an active life. If you are experiencing worrisome symptoms or persistent pain, the renowned arthritis specialists at Summit Orthopedics can help. We work with you to confirm a diagnosis and develop an appropriate conservative treatment plan. If nonsurgical treatments fail to support your lifestyle goals, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons will consult with you and discuss appropriate surgical options. Summit is home to innovative joint replacement options. Our Vadnais Heights Surgery Center is one of only two surgery centers nationally to receive The Joint Commissions Advanced Certification for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement.
Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Plymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.
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.
Cold therapy is best during an acute flare, Maggiore says. Cold therapy is helpful as it can lower joint temperatures, reduce pain, and decrease inflammation, she says.
Like heat therapy, cold therapy comes in several forms.
One 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.
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.
But if the cold doesnt feel good or you cant tolerate it, stop using it, Maggiore says.
Others who should avoid or limit cold therapy are people with Raynaud’s syndrome, a condition in which small blood vessels in the fingers or toes constrict when exposed to cold. If you have this syndrome, you probably should not use cold therapy on the affected parts of your body.
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Heat Therapy For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Heat helps improve your pain tolerance and relaxes muscles, both of which can reduce the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. Heat treatment remains a standard part of the physical therapists practice. But you don’t need to visit a physical therapist to reap the benefits of heat therapy. Here are some techniques you can use at home.
Warm bath or shower. A hot tub or a bathtub equipped with water jets can closely duplicate the warm-water massage of whirlpool baths used by professionalsfor most people, the bathtub works nearly as well. Soaking for 15 to 20 minutes in a warm bath allows the weight-bearing muscles to relax.
A warm shower can also help lessen the stiffness of rheumatoid arthritis. You can upgrade your shower with an adjustable shower-head massager thats inexpensive and easy to install. It should deliver a steady, fine spray or a pulsing stream, usually with a few options in between.
After a warm shower or bath, dress warmly to prolong the benefit.
Paraffin bath. Some therapists recommend a paraffin bath. You dip your hands or feet into wax melted in an electric appliance that maintains a safe temperature. After the wax hardens, the therapist wraps the treated area in a plastic sheet and blanket to retain the heat. Treatments generally take about 20 minutes, after which the wax is peeled off. Paraffin bath kits are also available for home use, but talk with your physical therapist for recommendations and cautions before you buy one.
How Does Heat And Cold Help Arthritis Pain
Heat or cold therapy works by stimulating your body’s own healing force. For instance, heat dilates the blood vessels, stimulates blood circulation, and reduces muscle spasms. In addition, heat alters the sensation of pain. You can use either dry heat — such as heating pads or heat lamps — or moist heat — such as warm baths or heated wash cloths.
Conversely, cold compresses reduce swelling by constricting blood vessels. While cold packs may be uncomfortable at first, they can numb deep pain.
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When To Use Heat To Help Your Hip
The primary intent of a heat based application is to increase blood flow circulation and, as such, stimulate the bodys recovery rate for older or recent injuries, long-term post surgery recovery and more recently for some regenerative therapies performed by doctors and pts. Warmer temperatures should be used approximately 3 to 5 days after you first have the injury or even later if the swelling has not reduced significantly. Heat should not be started for a least 2 weeks after surgery because inflammation levels will be very high as the healing process starts over again. Any use of heat should also be combined with gradual movement to stretch out your hip and increase range of motion.
If you have a chronic hip injury that keeps getting re-injured you should use heat before activity to loosen up your tissue . When used at this time the warm temperatures naturally extend the elasticity of the joint, making it more movable / pliable for activity.
Sometimes we feel pain while doing a certain activity should you still use heat? Using heat in the morning before you start your day or before activity can help to boost the healing process and reduce your risk of re-injury. Too much heat can make your inflammation worse. Cold treatments with a Cold Compress or Ice Pack should be used part-way through your day when you suffer from on-going pain and inflammation it is a natural pain-reliever.
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Heat Therapy Helps Relax Stiff Joints
Learn different ways to ease joint pain using warm water or a hot compress.
Heat Therapy Helps Relax Stiff Joints
Learn different ways to ease joint pain using warm water or a hot compress.
Looking for a natural way to get your joints moving in the morning? Close the medicine cabinet and try an age-old remedy that has stood the test of time: heat.
If you have a chronic condition like fibromyalgia, arthritis, or lower back pain, try heating things up. Soaking in warm water or applying a heated compress is one of the oldest, cheapest, and safest forms of complementary therapy. Research has shown that heat treatments can loosen stiff joints and relieve achy muscles.
Here is how it works. When you warm up a sore joint or tired muscle, your blood vessels get bigger. This allows more blood, oxygen, and nutrients to be delivered to the injured tissues. Better circulation means more relaxation for those stiff muscles and joints.
Stay away from heat if you have an acute injury or are having a flare. If you have a sudden onset of swelling and redness from overdoing it yesterday, you are better off using cold treatments for a few days. Cold has the opposite effect of heat: it reduces blood flow and decreases inflammation.
Here are a few simple ways to heat up your daily routine.
Here are a few simple ways to heat up your daily routine.
Take a Steamy Shower
Apply a Warm Compress
Dip your hands or feet in melted paraffin wax . Wait for it to cool and peel the wax off.
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How To Use Consistent Deep Tissue Stretching To Improve Knee Strength & Health
For many people, the treatment wont just end there. Stretching is also an important part of tendon healing and its the final stepneeded when healing your knee injury with conservative treatment methods.
You would be suprised by how many people there are that dont understand the importance of stretching a knee injury. Before returning to full activity after an injury, physical therapists prescribe gentle stretching This is because stretching is the secret of healing any soft tissue injury. Consistent stretching is one of the only solutions available to break up scar tissue that forms on your knee as it heals.
Stretching with use of a Cold Compress or Ice Pack and TShellz Wrap® is even better!