Are There Any Risks Or Detrimental Effects When Using Heat Or Ice
Yes, there are.
Both heat and ice can cause burns if the heat pack is too hot, for example, or an ice pack is left on the skin for too long. As aprecaution, heat and ice packs should be wrapped in a towel before being placed onto the affected body part, and the skin underneath shouldbe frequently checked. As a general rule, ice packs are used for 20 minutes, and then removed for 1-2 hours, before being applied again.
People with certain diseases should not use ice therapy:
- Raynauds disease
Heat and ice should not be used if your skin sensation is impaired , because there is a high risk that you could suffer burns. This often happens in people suffering from diabetes. As a precaution, a hot/cold skin test is performed before applying heat or ice: two test tubes are filled with hot and cold water, and alternatively placed on the skin if you cant feel the difference, you should not use heat or ice.
Cold therapy can cause hypertension , while heat can cause blood pressure to drop, especially if large areas are treated. If you suffer from hypertension or hypotension , you should be careful with cold or heat therapy.
Heat or cold therapy should not be used over open wounds, damaged skin, or if you suffer from skin conditions like dermatitis or rashes.Heat should also be avoided over areas that have recently bled .
When Your Sciatica Warrants A Visit To Your Doctor
Its important to recognize when at-home therapies arent easing your sciatica. If these treatments dont help you, it may be time to see your personal doctor or spine specialist.
People avoid the doctor for a variety of reasons. Maybe youre unsure about how to use your health insurance or you dont have any. Or perhaps you simply dont like visiting the doctor and prefer an ignorance-is-bliss approach.
Whatever the reason, some sciatica symptoms truly warrant medical attention. In rare cases, delaying medical care could lead to or cause permanent nerve damage.
If you experience any of the following, please see your doctor as soon as possible:
- You have severe pain in your low back and legs
- You experience nerve-related symptoms, such as weakness, numbness, tingling, or electric shock-like pain
- Your pain doesnt improve after 2 weeks
- Your pain gets worse, even when using at-home therapies
- You have loss of bowel and/or bladder control
Easing the extreme pain of sciatica doesnt always require an extreme treatment approach. Relieving sciatic nerve pain at home with gentle exercise, ice and heat therapy, proper posture, and medication may go along way to speed your recovery. But the most important thing you can do for your low back and leg pain is to take it seriouslyalways call your doctor if you arent experiencing relief.
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.
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.
Ice Vs Heat For Treating Pain: Which One Is Best For Arthritis Headaches And Sprains
If you have a splitting headache, lying down with an ice cold cloth on your head is sometimes the only way to numb the pain but when your grandmas back aches, she cant live without her heating pad. Both cold and heat are used to alleviate pain whether its from an injury or arthritis but which are best to use for certain conditions?
For some, it may be a matter of preference, but recent guidelines from the American Physical Therapy Association note that using heat or cold in the wrong way could actually be harmful. In particular, they explain that using such passive therapies instead of helping patients manage more physical activity could make pain worse.
Still, ice packs can help reduce inflammation and swelling right after a sports injury, as well as numb the pain of a headache. And for arthritis patients, heating up joints can help them move around more easily. To help you choose a treatment, the Cleveland Clinic has come up with an infographic that delineates different types of pain, and their best icy or hot treatments.
Heat, in the meantime, is typically better for long-term, chronic pain like arthritis in your joints. Patients with more chronic osteoarthritis usually feel better with heat, Dr. Linda Mileti, a rheumatologist at the Cleveland Clinic, said.
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Pain From Sciatica Can Range From Mild To Intense
Dear Mayo Clinic:
Ive had sciatica on-and-off for weeks, but for the past few days it has been so bad that Im uncomfortable all of the time. It feels best when walking, but when I stop or sit down the pain is almost unbearable. My doctor says physical therapy is the only way to treat it. Are there no other options?
Answer:Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back to the buttock and down the back of each leg. The lower lumbosacral nerve roots make up the sciatic nerve which is the longest nerve in the body.
Although many people think of sciatica as a condition, it is actually a collection of symptoms. Most people with sciatica will experience pain more in their lower extremity than in their back. The pain will often extend below the knee and into the foot and, in many cases, it is accompanied by numbness or tingling. On occasion, patients will experience muscle weakness in the affected leg.
For some, sciatica pain may be just a mild ache for others, it can be quite intense. Some people experience a sharp burning sensation and may feel a jolt like an electric shock. Often, the pain intensifies when sitting for long periods. Some patients lose bladder or bowel control, a sign of cauda equina syndrome, which is rare but serious and requires immediate medical care. See your doctor immediately if your sciatica is accompanied by these symptoms.
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?
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Generally Heat Applications Work Best Early In The Day
Use this as a jump-start for stiff joints. Icing is used at the end of the day to minimize any inflammation sparked by your days activities. If you have any questions about hot and cold treatments, talk with your doctor. At Summit, our teams of physicians and healthcare professionals can manage symptoms through a variety of conservative treatments designed to restore mobility, reduce pain, and protect the lifestyle you love.
And The Short Answer Is
Fortunately, whether youve used hot or cold compresses overthe years, research shows that both are effective for helping peoplesuffering from osteoarthritis. When heat is applied to a joint, it causesthe blood vessels to dilate, increasing blood flow to the area, which in turncan help with pain and inflammation. On the other side of the coin, cold causesthe blood vessels to constrict and numbs the tissues, which can help with acutediscomfort.
In the end, whichever one you choose, science shows that itcan help soothe a troubled jointits mostly up to your preference. Whether youget your heat from a hot shower, warm washcloth, or heating pad doesnt matteras well. The same applies to using a bag of ice or frozen peas. The only thingto keep in mind is that either method should only be applied to the skin in10-15 minute incrementsany longer than that could potentially damage it.
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Getting The Most Out Of Heat & Cold
Often, using both heat and cold can be tremendously beneficialfor those with osteoarthritis, particularly when it comes to exercise . One common approach isto apply heat to the joint to loosen up the muscles and increase blood flowbefore activity, exercise, and then use cold to prevent any swelling and painafterward. This allows many patients to remain active without having to paythe price afterward.
Whats The Best Kind Of Heat For Peripheral Neuropathy
A lot of peripheral neuropathy suffers use foot massaging machines as a at home treatment. This is great because it combines heat with the benefits of massage. As you may already know, massage also increases blood circulation around the affected areas. So by combining heat with massage, its a match made in heaven.
There are certainly models that are better than others when it comes to neuropathy. This is also true when it comes to heat treatment. I would say the majority of massagers available on the market provide traditional heat. The heat you feel which makes you warm. This is great and all, but there is a better option available which is growing in popularity.
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When To Use Heat Vs Ice
Conventional wisdom says this:
- Cold therapy reduces blood flow to the area, which can decrease swelling and inflammation. This can be especially soothing if you have an acute injury say, your joints hurt worse than usual because you were gardening all weekend.
- Heat therapy increases blood flow to the area, which helps blood vessels dilate, drawing in more oxygen and nutrients. This can be especially soothing for stiff joints, especially for people who experience morning stiffness because of arthritis.
As this Cleveland Clinic article says, 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.
If youre choosing between ice and heat, for the most part, it really just depends on what type of problem youre dealing with, says Brett Smith, DO, a rheumatologist at Blount Memorial Physicians Group in Alcoa, Tennessee. Youre trying to get the opposite effect of whats going on. If youre physically swollen, you want to try and cool that down to allow you to have less pain. If youre not physically swollen, then youre trying to heat it up to increase blood flow to help with the healing process.
Both ice and heat therapy may decrease the transmission of pain signals to the brain, which can also help with pain relief.
What Temperature Is Best When Using Heat Therapy For Arthritis
When using moist heat therapy, make sure the temperature is not so hot that you burn your skin. Find a temperature that you can comfortably tolerate, whether using a bath, hot water bottle, or spa therapy.
You also need to give it time to work. Use the moist heat application for at least 15 minutes before exercise. Then use it again immediately following exercise. You can also use moist heat anytime you want additional relief from arthritis pain.
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Causes Of Knee Arthritis
Knowing the risk factors may help prevent arthritis pain, though not all are avoidable. One of the most common reasons for an increase in the prevalence of knee arthritis is the increase in the aging population.
Some individuals are genetically more vulnerable to the condition. Females are also at higher risk of painful knee conditions.
Among the preventable risk factors are obesity, trauma, muscle weakness, frequent sprains and strains, mechanical stress on the joints, wrong posture while working, too much kneeling and squatting.
Heat Or Ice For Pinched Nerve & 7 More Ways To Help
A pinched nerve can cause irritating pain and discomfort. It is usually evident by a tingling or numbing feeling that comes and goes, getting worse over time. The condition is caused by nerve damage brought on by pressure for an extended period or trauma to the area. However, it can also occur if you have a herniated disc, arthritis and other various conditions. Luckily, therere ways to help manage the pain and bring some relief.
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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.
The Art Of Using Hot And Cold Therapy
Hot and cold therapy each have their own appropriate uses. You should never apply heat to a joint that is already hot, red, and irritated, for example, nor should you apply cold to a joint that’s stiff and not moving well. Remember, heat helps muscles relax cold helps to minimize inflammation and pain.
It’s also important to be careful when using hot and cold therapy to manage arthritis pain, or you might end up with damage to your skin from exposure to relatively extreme temperatures.
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Here are suggestions for safely using heat therapy devices such as a heating pad, a heat pack, a hand towel soaked in hot water, a warm water soak, or a hot water bottle:
- Make sure that the temperature is never uncomfortably high you don’t want to put your skin at risk for burns.
- Place a cloth or towel between your skin and the heat source to prevent burns.
- Don’t apply heat to skin that is cut or injured in any way.
- Never apply heat for longer than 20 minutes at a time.
Suggestions for safely using cold therapy devices such as a cold pack, a bag of frozen vegetables, or a bag of ice:
After using heat or cold on your joint pain, always evaluate your skin and look for any signs of damage like a change in color, rash, or blisters.
Switching between hot and cold therapy can offer excellent arthritis pain management benefits, as long as each one is used appropriately.
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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.
Like heat therapy, cold therapy comes in several forms. 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.
Another 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. There also are widely available over-the-counter cold sprays and ointments, such as Biofreeze and CryoDerm, that relieve inflammation by numbing the nerves.
One word of caution: If you have Raynaud’s syndrome, a condition in which small blood vessels in the fingers or toes constrict when exposed to cold, you probably should not use cold therapy on the affected part of your body. Of course, you should always consult your doctor or physical therapist before trying heat or cold therapy for rheumatoid arthritis.