Friday, December 1, 2023

Is Heat Or Cold Best For Arthritis

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Should you use heat or ice for joint pain?

Over-the-counter pain medication and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are effective for moderate and severe cases. However, some cases of osteoarthritis dont respond well to these medications, and doctors will usually advise patients to seek medical advice before having surgery. If osteoarthritis is not yet severe enough, doctors will often prescribe over-the-counter medication to help reduce pain. In the worst-case scenario, they may prescribe a special drug to alleviate the symptoms.

In the case of severe cases, a doctor may prescribe corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation in the affected joints. Repeated corticosteroids, however, can be damaging to cartilage. For severe cases, the doctor may prescribe joint replacement. This is a surgical procedure that replaces the damaged joint surfaces with artificial ones. It is often an expensive and lengthy procedure, but it will reduce the pain and improve the function of the joint.

As with other types of osteoarthritis, MIV-711 has the potential to reverse or slow down the progression of the disease. The drug has also shown promise in reducing the progression of osteoarthritis. In addition, MIV-711 has the potential to reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis in the affected joints. This drug has been developed in a laboratory and is currently being tested on a clinical trial in patients with the condition.

When To Use Heat Or Ice For Arthritis

In the case of arthritis, which is one of the most common reasons for joint pain, a combination of both can relieve the pain. If you experience a burning sensation and swelling in the joints, a few minutes of cold application can help reduce it. If the pain is more like soreness or stiffness, heat is the best option.

Tips On 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.

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.

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When Should You Call A Doctor

If your joint pain doesn’t improve after you use heat or ice for a few days, or your pain gets worse, it’s a good idea to call your doctor. You may need other treatments that will help you heal and reduce your pain.

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Cooling Sprays And Ointments Are Great Too

Ice Vs Heat For Treating Pain: Which One Is Best For ...

If you’re not into taking a cool-water bath, or maybe it’s the dead of winter and it would be anything but relaxing, try some over-the-counter sprays or ointments to do the job. Drugstores sell these products, such as Biofreeze and Cryoderm, that can deliver a cooling sensation to inflamed joints and numb the pain in your nerves, too.

Also Check: Best Way To Relieve Arthritis Pain

How Often Should I Use Heat Or Cold Therapy For Arthritis Pain

Try to use moist heat or ice packs at least twice a day for the best relief from pain and stiffness.

According to the American College of Rheumatology, five to 10-minute ice massages applied to a painful area within the first 48 hours of pain onset can provide relief. So can heat, which relaxes the muscles. Heat should be used for pain that lasts longer than 48 hours.

Hot Therapy For Rheumatoid Arthritis

For someone with an inflammatory disease like RA, applying heat may seem counterintuitive. But since heat works to reduce muscle tension and stimulate blood circulation, many patients find that applying something warm even if it just means warming your clothes in the dryer before dressing, or lying with a heated blanket prior to getting up in the morning simply feels good on the joints.

“Gentle heat in the morning can improve your range of motion,” explains Katie Palmer, a physical therapist in Newtown, Pennsylvania. “It can relieve some of the joint pain and the stiffness and prepare your body for exercise or to get up and get moving and out the door.”

One version of hot therapy is the paraffin, or wax, bath, similar to what’s used in nail salons to soften the skin and nails. “The paraffin is heated to a prescribed temperature and then you dip in your hands, wrists, and fingers, and it forms a coating,” Palmer explains. “Then you wrap your paraffin-covered hands and wrists in a little towel, and it gives you a nice moist, deep heat that can help eliminate some of the pain and stiffness of RA.”

Palmer recommends paraffin therapy for the hands when they’re stiff, like first thing in the morning, but not when the joints are inflamed. “When the joints are acutely inflamed, when things are a little bit out of control, it’s more useful to use a cool temperature to decrease the inflammation and the swelling,” she says.

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Best Places To Live With Arthritis

Based on the Rheumatic Disease Report Card, the best places to live with arthritis in the United States include:

  • California: With a B rating on the access to care map, minimal humidity, and consistently warm weather, Southern California is a great place to live comfortably with rheumatoid arthritis
  • Hawaii: People with arthritis may also thrive in Hawaiis less humid regions, such as the Kona side of the Big Island. Hawaii gets ample sun and warmth and has high-quality care access
  • Virginia: Virginia has a B on the care rating scale. The weather there is more mild than that in the northern states, but not as humid as that in other southern states, making it a great place for people with arthritis to live
  • Colorado: The dry climate of Colorado makes it suitable for people with arthritis. Southern and plains regions, which get less snow than the mountains, are best. Colorado also has great expert care access

A Summary Of How Ice & Heat Affect Your Blood Flow

How to Relieve Arthritis pain [with heat and cold therapy]

Imagine you’re standing in your living room at home. When the air in that room is at normal room temperature , your body is in a comfortable state. Your heart rate and blood pressure are normal .

Imagine the air has cooled down to freezing…

When the room becomes cooler your heart rate begins to slow down and your blood pressure increases. Your body does this automatically to retain heat in your body. At this time your soft tissue will also start to squeeze on and contract all of the veins in your body carrying blood flow. This also helps to decrease the amount of blood flowing throughout your circulatory system and retains the heat.

When cold is applied to a knee injury, all of your soft tissue will squeeze on the veins to slow down your blood flow. This in turn clamps down on the amount of fluid leaking into your injured tissue, decreasing your swelling. This is why cold is used immediately to treat newer knee injuries or re-injuries. The cold slows down your body to stop the amount of damage happening to your tissue and decrease your swelling. This cold also has a nice side benefit of numbing the nerves in and around your knee injury thereby decreasing your pain.

In the medical world this is something called ‘Vasoconstriction’.

Now, imagine the air has warmed up enough that you start sweating…

When the room becomes warmer your heart rate speeds up and your blood pressure decreases. Your body is trying to increase your blood flow to cool down your body.

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The Donts Of Applying Cold Packs For Arthritis

  • Cold application is known to worsen the stiffness. Therefore, in general, cold packs should be in case of chronic muscle pain and on stiff joints.
  • Never use cold packs on a shivering or febrile person, even the one suffering from arthritic pain you may confuse the brain by sending wrong temperature signals, thus aggravating the already bad condition! Remember, the doctor said, use tap and NOT ice water for sponging your febrile sibling?

Cold Treatment For Arthritis

Using Cold treatment is best for acute pain it restricts blood vessels, slowing the blood circulation and reducing the swelling near the pain site. It also numbs your nerve endings dulling the pain to significant levels.

Cold packs numb the sore area around the joints and reduce inflammation and swelling. Ice packs are especially recommended for joint pain due to an arthritis flare.

Many sprays are available in the market to provide superficial cooling when applied on joints. This diminishes muscle spasms and elevates the threshold for pain.

You can use cold treatment for arthritis by using any of the following ways:

  • Wrap a bag of ice and apply on the joints for a maximum of 20 minutes at a time.
  • You can try a store-bought gel cold pack.
  • You can submerge your joints in a container filled with ice and water.
  • A clinical therapy combining cold and compression has also been helpful in many cases.
  • When applying cold treatments, be careful that it is not too cold to cause long numbness in the joints. Ice treatment when applied carefully can result in enormous reliefs in arthritis impacted joints.

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    How You Can Use Cold And Heat Therapy

    Cold Therapy with ice packs or even ice baths causes a vasoconstrictive effect, which is when the blood vessels tighten and less blood flows through the vessel. This helps to reduce pain and inflammation and will give you immediate relief at the initial onset of bursitis pain. Apply a cold compress first, but for no more than 20 minutes and if you have sensitive skin, this may be even less.

    Bursitis is caused when the bursae sacs, which are fluid filled cushions at the joints, become inflamed usually due to repetitive movement of the joint. The cold will help with the pain from inflammation, but it does stiffen the body. This is where heat therapy comes in.

    Heat Therapy has the opposite effect and will open the blood vessels and cause the blood to flow. After the cold brings down the inflammation, you should be in less pain. This is when you want to apply a warm compress to help soothe the area and improve joint mobility. You will then slowly want to start stretching your elbow, shoulder, hip, knee, or specific bursitis ailment.

    During a flareup you will want to repeat this 2-3 times per day. There are certain compresses that you can chill and then microwave. Read the instructions on those products carefully to make sure that you dont over heat them.

    Staying active is important for overall well being, but with bursitis that can be hard. Learn more on exercising with bursitis here.

    What Are Paraffin Baths And How Can They Help

    Best Heating Pads For Arthritis

    A different kind of heat therapy you may or may not have heard of is a paraffin bath. This is a bath of wax which is similar to what nail salons use to help soften skin and nails. It works by using heated wax to warm your hands, wrists, and finger. The wax will form a warm layer coating your joints, after which you wrap your hands with a towel to contain the moist, deep heat emitted by the wax as it cools. A paraffin bath can help alleviate a lot of the stiffness of rheumatoid arthritis. It’s best to use first thing in the morning when joints are stiff, but not yet in pain. If your joints are acutely inflamed, it’s actually best to avoid the paraffin bath because the heat can aggravate the inflammation and increase swelling.

    If you don’t have access to a wax bath, you can substitute this therapy with a simple warm compress. Things you can use around the house include hot water bottles or a towel soaked in hot water. Research has shown evidence that warm compresses relieve pain and stiffness in rheumatoid pain, and can even help improve hand and finger range of motion if used with exercise.

    Read Also: Seronegative Arthritis Mayo Clinic

    When To Chill And When To Heat

    Many of these conditions are treatable with medication as prescribed by your health care provider. And, for other situations, over-the-counter pain relievers may be enough to help. But you still may need further relief so here are a few tips to keep in mind when deciding between ice or heat for aching muscles and joints.

    Reminder: if any of these conditions are new or dont resolve quickly, be sure to contact your health care provider for more treatment options.

    Acute injuries

    First of all, do not use heat on acute injuries because that extra heat can increase inflammation and delay proper healing.

    When dealing with injuries, its best to predominantly choose ice if the injury is acute . The chill constricts blood vessels which numbs pain, relieves inflammation and limits bruising.

    If youre sensitive to cold then ice may initially seem uncomfortable or even painful to apply. Heat can feel warm, cozy and be tempting to toss on an injury, says primary care sports medicine physician Anne Rex, DO. But dont be fooled! Ice wins to shut down swelling, inflammation and pain early on where heat may actually make an injury worse.

    If youre dealing with lingering injuries then its okay to use heat. The increased blood flow relaxes tight muscles and relieves aching joints. This is especially helpful to improve range of motion on a joint that maybe isnt moving as well.


    Gout flare-ups


    Muscle strains and sprains



    The Link Between Weather And Joint Pain

    It isnt entirely clear why weather affects people with arthritis, but the link between weather and arthritic pain has been extensively studied. People with arthritis may experience pain in places where temperature changes are more extreme and in damp climates. They also experience pain in response to climate factors like humidity, air pressure, and wind speed. Temperature and barometric pressure have also been noted as contributing factors to joint pain. Understanding how different weather patterns affect pain can help people with arthritis find the best climate for them.

    Read Also: Best Remedy For Arthritis In Hands

    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.

    When Should You Use Cold To Treat Your Knee Pain

    When to use heat or cold for knee pain?

    Cold compression works best to relieve pain, swelling and inflammation for new injuries, re-injury and during immediate post surgery recovery. Cold therapy should also be used during the first 24 – 72 hours of treatment, combined with resting your injury.

    If you’ve been suffering for some time with a chronic knee injury you should only use cold after activity causes you more pain or triggers more inflammatory response symptoms . This would be when your knee starts to hurt at the end of the day after you’ve been on your feet, active in athletics, or performing any other tasks that has put a lot of weight or stress on your knee. When used at this time cold compression becomes a natural / organic pain reliever, treating the site where you feel the pain.

    Sometimes we feel pain while doing a certain activity – should you still use cold? Too much cold therapy can reduce your ability to heal correctly, because cold is a short term painrelievernot a soft tissue healer.

    We put milk in the fridge so it will stay fresh longer. We do this so it will stay in the same condition as when we bought it. Your injury is no different. Too much cold will keep your injury in the same state – slowing down the healing process. This can sometimes make chronic injuries linger even longer. Heat should be used when you suffer from a chronic, tight or stiff knee injury and after you reduce swelling, pain and inflammation with cold.

    Here are a couple of examples for when to use cold :

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    Managing Your Arthritis In Warmer Weather

    Weve been lucky to enjoy some warm days recently and while most of us love a bit of sunshine, the warmer weather can affect some people with arthritis.

    People with arthritis often say that they can predict the weather based on how their joints feel. Some notice their pain and stiffness flares up in the cold and wet winter months, while others find hot and humid summer weather can make symptoms worse.

    Dr Alastair Dickson, GP and health economist with an interest in rheumatology and arthritis, and trustee of the Primary Care Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Medicine Society, says that some people are more sensitive to the weather than others.

    It is unknown why weather affects arthritis pain, he says. One theory is that people are less active in cold, damp weather and keeping active is known to help relieve arthritis pain.

    An alternative theory is that changes in barometric pressure affect the pain you feel. Temperature sensitivity is a common symptom of fibromyalgia, and extremes in temperature, whether it be hot or cold, can trigger flare-ups.

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