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.
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Types Of Cold Therapy For Arthritis
Cold therapy, or cryotherapy, decreases blood flow to the affected area, which can reduce swelling and inflammation. It may have a numbing effect and help to relieve pain. However, it may exacerbate muscular tension.
In general, cold therapy is best for painful, inflamed joints, making it the best option for acute pain, inflammation, or swelling. It may be beneficial to do cold therapy after exercise or physical activity that causes discomfort. For best results, elevate the affected area.
Do not use cold therapy if you have poor circulation or a sensory condition such as diabetes that inhibits your ability to detect particular sensations. Talk with your doctor before using cold therapy if you have cardiovascular or heart disease.
To prevent nerve, tissue, and skin damage, do cold therapy for a maximum of 20 minutes. Continually check to make sure you can feel sensations in the affected area.
Does Alternating Heat And Cold Therapy Help
Many people find it beneficial to alternate between heat and cold therapy. You can switch between hot and cold therapies throughout the day. Usually, its best to wait at around 20 minutes between sessions, though you can also alternate between hot and cold water in the shower. Always start and finish with a cold treatment.
Talk with your doctor before alternating between full-body treatments such as an ice bath and a sauna or hot tub.
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Heat Therapy May Be Superior For Knee Osteoarthritis Pain
If you have knee osteoarthritis, using heat therapy can be a life-saver.
It can help relax your tight muscles, reduce stiffness, and prepare your joints for physical activity.
In people with this condition, studies recommend using moist heat every other day for 20 minutes at a time, for 4 weeks at least. It may help decrease pain while improving your knee function.
You can maximize these results by pairing this protocol with the medication your doctor prescribed and doing a rehabilitation program.
Arthritis Of The Knee
is a condition in which there is loss of the articular cartilage of the femur, tibia, or patella. This can be seen on X-ray as a loss of the space between the two ends of bone.
X-ray of an Arthritic Knee
Because of the loss of the gliding surfaces of the bone, people with arthritis may feel as though their knee is stiff and their motion is limited. Sometimes people actually feel a catching or clicking within the knee. Generally, loading the knee joint with activities such as walking long distances, standing for long periods of time, or climbing stairs makes arthritis pain worse. When the arthritis has gotten to be severe, the pain may occur even when sitting or lying down. The pain is usually felt in the inside part of the knee, but also may be felt in the front or back of the knee. As the cartilage is worn away preferentially on one side of the knee joint, people may find their knee will become more knock-kneed or bowlegged.
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Water As Heat Therapy
In general, I do not recommend soaking or prolonged submerging of an open wound. Although whirlpool baths used to be widely used with burns and wounds, we now know that such practices create a breeding ground for infection.
I would say the majority of my clients with arthritis report that they start each day with a long, hot shower to help them slowly work out their joint stiffness and help them get moving.
Soak in a tub of warm water, or a garden tub with jets. Some clients use Epsom salts in the bath.
A small number of my arthritis clients have jacuzzis or hot tubs. In Texas, taxes paid on these spas are reimbursable with a doctors letter. These units have jets to agitate the water. Some have jets and spouts that can be directed to specific areas on your body, which can act as a mini-massage.
However, exercise caution with spa tubs. The warm water is not only relaxing, it decreases blood pressure. When public spas say limit to 10 minutes, this is related to drops in blood pressure that can potentially be dangerous. Never go in the spa alone. There is a very real danger that you could pass out from low blood pressure.
- Overwhelmingly clients with arthritis experience decreased achy pain and stiffness in their hands after wearing resting hand splints for sleeping.
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.
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Headaches: Ice Or Heat
The right treatment depends on the type of headache you have. Headaches caused from tension can benefit from heat therapy, which helps relax tight muscles throughout the neck and jaw, says Jeffrey Yellin, DPT, CSCS, at Professional Physical Therapy. Sinus headaches can also benefit from the use of heat therapy to help warm nasal passages and loosen some of the built-up secretions. Migraines, or other vascular induced headaches, tend to respond better with the use of cold therapy.
You could also try these home remedies for headaches.
Are Certain Exercises Easier On The Knees
Water aerobics are often suggested when recuperating from sore joints.
Although the water can have a soothing, buoyant effect on your knees, Bell says its unlikely to produce enough resistance to strengthen the surrounding muscles.
If you really want to create enough resistance to make a difference, land-based exercises ultimately are what you need, she says.
Some of her favorites include cycling, at moderate or high intensity, and strengthening exercises like Pilates.
You may be able to get more out of a low-impact workout by incorporating weighted elastic bands or free weights into your routine.
You may also find it beneficial to wear a knee brace while exercising.
If you havent already, talk with your doctor about whether this is a good option for you. They can make specific recommendations and advise you on best practices.
Youll likely experience mild soreness when exercising, especially if you havent exercised for a while.
When planning your routine, be sure to keep the level of intensity reasonable.
Your doctor or physical therapist can provide a personalized recommendation suited to your needs.
The dose of exercise should be enough to produce a difference, but not so much that you become injured or discouraged.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop exercising until you can see your doctor:
If the pain persists, resist the temptation to mask it with pain medication, Bell says. You want to find out the underlying cause of the problem and fix it.
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The Donts Of Applying Hot Packs For Arthritis
- Now, it isnt difficult to guess that heat can make acute inflammation worse. Heat should NOT be applied in acute pain, acute injuries, and in bleeding, even when these occur to an arthritic joint. Applying heat to a fresh injury will only worsen the pain.
- Do not use heat if you have any open wounds or substantial bruises
- Not recommended for patients with diabetes
Note: Tiger balms and other capsaicin-containing topical ointments are only spicy that is they make you feel hot they do not increase heat physiologically. They distract our mind from pain they do not affect pain.
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.
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How Does Heat Work
When I say heat, what I mean is a warm compress, hot water bottle or wheat cushion applied to an area of skin around an injury. You could also get these effects from a hot bath or shower, but this would be a less targeted way of treating your knee.
Heat works roughly in the opposite way that ice works. It, too, has a number of effects to the body when applied around an injury:
- Heat causes an effect called vasodilation to the blood vessels around an area which means a widening of the vessels, increasing blood flow to an injured site. You wouldnt want to use heat on a recently sprained ankle
- Heat doesnt affect the nerves like ice does, but it does increase healthy blood flow to an area, which can speed up healing in some injuries . It also helps to flush away the nasties within the blood that invade an injured area.
- Heat has an effect on the surrounding muscles and joints whereby it loosens them up by making the soft tissues more elastic. This basically means you get more flexibility in a body part just by heating it up! Try to stretch a muscle in the cold, then try to stretch the same muscle after a hot shower youll find you can stretch much further after the heat treatment.
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Has Knee Pain Impacted Your Daily Activities
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Hot And Cold Therapies Explained
Treating pain, inflammation and injury with hot and cold therapies can be extremely effective and affordable. However, its important to know which situations call for hot, which call for cold and which may benefit from both treatments. Importantly, this kind of therapy is very good for arthritis and can help ease pain and stiffness that comes with the condition.
What is cold therapy?Cold therapy reduces blood flow to the applied area, slows the rate of inflammation and reduces the risk of swelling and tissue damage. It can also temporarily numb sore tissues to help with pain.
Types of Cold Therapy
- Ice packs available to purchase, or use a plastic bag filled with ice or frozen vegetables and wrapping it in a dry cloth. As a general rule, ice packs are used for 20 minutes, removed for 1-2 hours, before being applied again.
- Ice baths body part is immersed in cold water
- Ice massage ice cube or ice pack is moved around the sore area or joint in a circular motion
- Vaporizing sprays very short term effect
Cold Therapy is Best for
- Acute stages of inflammation such as a recent sprain or injury
- Tendinitis or irritation on the tendons following activity
Heat therapy dilates the blood vessels, stimulate blood flow and reduces muscle spasms.
Types of heat therapy
Hot therapy is best for
Arthritis NSW were here to help
Were here to help whenever you need us. We have a variety of options available for support and information.
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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What Is The Knee Joint
Three bones come together to form your knee joint. They include the:
- Thighbone .
- Shinbone .
- Kneecap .
A smooth substance called cartilage covers the ends of each bone. Its a cushion between the bones that keeps them from rubbing together. The synovial membrane, a type of tissue that surrounds the joint, lubricates the cartilage.
Arthritis of the knee causes pain and swelling in the joint
Best Thermotherapy According To Your Knee Arthritis
Lets clarify something first there are over 100 types of arthritis!
See, the word arthritis only means inflammation of the joint. Its a medical term to say the joint is swollen, but it doesnt tell us why.
Now, these are the most common types of arthritis :
- Osteoarthritis. Due to wear and tear. Ironically, its NOT inflammatory.
- Gout. Here, uric acid crystals accumulate in the joints, causing inflammation.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. An autoimmune disease that affects the joints.
And, the truth is that anyone with these chronic diseases can benefit from cold and hot therapies.
But, research shows one thermotherapy may provide more benefits than the other, depending on the condition:
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One Simple Inexpensive And Effective Way For Patients To Treat Painful Joints At Home Is The Application Of Heat Or Cold
The trick is to know when to reach for a heating pad and when to use a towel-wrapped bag of ice or frozen peas to ease arthritic pain. We explain how temperature works to soothe a joint, and we distinguish between the type of pain that responds to heat versus the type of pain that responds to cold therapy.
When Should You Use Ice
You may want to use ice if you have an injury or your joints hurt after exercising, moving furniture, gardening or other activities. Applying an ice pack to the sore area decreases blood flow, which relieves pain and inflammation. Inflammation can cause swelling around your joint, making it feel stiff. When you use ice, stiffness is less likely to be a problem.
Ice is most helpful when it’s used for the first 24 hours after knee pain starts. If you apply ice to your joint, be sure to follow the 20 minutes on/20 minutes off rule. Keep the ice pack on your knee no longer than 20 minutes. Wait at least 20 minutes before you use the ice pack again. Take the ice pack off sooner if your skin hurts or looks very red. Keeping the ice pack on your skin too long could cause frostbite.
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How To Get Moving Every Day
In addition to physical therapy, its critical to incorporate regular exercise into your daily routine.
Joints are built to move, says Dr. Day. The evidence shows that people who are least active have more arthritis pain than people who do some form of exercise. Choose lower-impact activities, such as bicycling, swimming or exercising in a pool.
Calcium And Vitamin D
Low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt can also provide vitamin D and calcium, which may help to strengthen the bones.
Scientists have found evidence of low vitamin D levels in people with OA.
Consuming more vitamin D through fortified dairy foods and regular, safe, exposure to sunlight may offer benefits for people with OA.
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