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.
What Is Heat Useful For
Heat is useful for relieving:
- tendonitis, or chronic irritation and stiffness in the tendons
- warming up stiff muscles or tissue before activity
- relieving pain or spasms relating to neck or back injury, including the lower back
In 2006, a team of researchers found that patients with lower back pain who exercised and use continuous low-level heat wrap therapy experienced less pain than those who did not use CLHT.
Previous studies had shown that, for some people, CLHT relieved pain more effectively than oral analgesics, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen.
However, the effectiveness of heat treatment may depend on the depth of the tissue affected by the pain or injury.
Some people use heat treatment, often in the form of a hot bath, to stave off DOMS.
There is some evidence that this might help, but heat that is applied for only 5 to 20 minutes may be less effective, as does not have the chance impact the deeper levels of tissue.
Some researchers have that moist chemical heat packs, which can be used for 2 hours, may be the best way to prevent DOMS through heat treatment.
Can You Use Both Cold And Warm Compress
When it comes to treating sinus headaches and relieving congestion, you dont really need to choose between cold and warm compress. In fact, its better to use both alternately.
Alternating between hot and cold compresses is known as contrast therapy, which has numerous benefits for physical therapy. For sinus pain, this treatment can relieve a lot of the pain youre experiencing and should be done repeatedly in a day.
Heres how to do it:
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Contrasting Therapy With Cold And Warm Compresses
Alternating hot and cold treatment is called contrasting therapy. This technique stimulates the muscle, improves blood flow, and relieves tightness, thus exhibiting an analgesic effect.
Pain related to injuries that are older than 48 hours or during the recovery phase of healing should benefit from alternating warm and cold compresses.
Heat Therapy: Why A Heated Back Brace Is A Good Way To Get Rid Of Back Pain
Generally speaking, heat therapy is your best solution for sore, stiff or aching muscles, especially in the neck or back.
Your muscles typically respond well to heat, especially when your discomfort stems from overexertion, trigger points , spasms, cramps , bad posture, or restless leg syndrome.
Using a heating pad is also one of the best things you can do for easing pain or stiffness stemming from arthritis.
A heating pad can also soothe hurts-all-over pain or sensitivity stemming from fibromyalgia, sleep deprivation, rheumatic diseases or vitamin D deficiency, to name a few examples.
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A Combination Of Hot And Cold Therapy May Be Just What You Need To Treat Pain
If you are breathing, chances are you have experienced some type of physical pain in your life whether it be due to injury or having some type of chronic health condition such as arthritis or fibromyalgia.
Pain can be intense and really affects the quality of your life. Some even say it may be better to die once and for all than to suffer pain for all ones life.
And despite decades of research, chronic pain remains poorly understood and notoriously hard to control, .
Sometimes pain is managed with highly addictive drugs called opioids. Now opioids have contributed to a drug epidemic in America.
So clearly its important for us all to be proactive about pain management and explore credible alternative therapies to alleviate pain.Two pain relieving therapies are cryotherapy and thermography.
You are probably very familiar with applying an ice pack on a rolled ankle to reduce swelling or maybe on an injured knee. This is a form of cold therapy. Cryotherapy, sometimes referred to as cold therapy, has become a pretty popular treatment for pain these days.
And dont forget nutrition!
When Heat Therapy Is Not The Answer
There are times when applying heat will make your discomfort worse or when ice therapy is a better option .
If you have truly pulled or strained your lower back muscles, applying heat will cause inflammation. Heating inflamed tissues will make your pain worse and certainly wont help things get better any time soon.
Another scenario when heat therapy is not a good idea is if you are already sweating. Adding even more heat can come across as a threat signal to your brain, prompting it to up your pain response.
This seems kind of obvious, but you should not apply heat to an open wound or infected tissue. Heat therapy should also be avoided when treating:
- deep vein thrombosis
- peripheral vascular disease
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Dont Let Back Pain Hold You Back Find Out What To Use To Loosen Stiff Muscles At Home
There are many reasons hot and cold therapy are go-to methods to treat just about any form of soreness or injury to your body. They are easy, safe, inexpensive and environmentally-friendly ways of relieving pain that can be done from the comfort of your home. They also come without any of the side effects or risks that come with many other treatment options.
That said, cold and heat therapy also are not as potent as many other methods. And it can be tough to determine whether you should use heat or ice for back pain.
But dont fretthis post walks you through that decision-making process, helping you to determine what is good for your back pain ice or heat.
Ice Or Heat And What To Use When
There has always been confusion surrounding heating versus icing injuries. The line has never been drawn on what to use unless you see your doctor, of course.
The truth is, there is a clear line that tells you when to heat and when to ice without going straight to the emergency room. Treatment for an injury is determined by its location and the type of injury sustained. Not only will we explain when to ice and when to heat, but we will also explain why.
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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.
How To Make A Warm Compress
Fill a bowl with water that’s warm but not hot. Put a clean washcloth in it. Cover it completely. Wring it out so itâs damp but doesnât drip. Fold the washcloth and place it on your eye. Leave it there for several minutes or as long as your doctor says to.
When the washcloth gets cold, you can dunk it into the water again and repeat the process. The doctor may tell you to do this several times a day. Use a clean washcloth for each session.
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/9ice Vs Heat Therapy
We all are prone to suffer from pain and injuries from time to time. Either it is due to sitting for hours at the desk or is caused after an intense workout session. Any of these can lead to discomfort in your back, knees, and other major joints making you restless. Most of the people reach out for balm or painkillers for some relief, but another way to get rid of pain is heat or cold compression. Using ice or heat on inflammation or joint pain is far better than popping pills and you can easily do it at home. The tricky part is when to apply hot and when to apply cold compression on your area of concern.
Should You Use Ice Or Heat After A Chiropractic Adjustment
This is dependent on the presenting problem. If the inflammation is from a joint in the spine or disk ice would be the way to go. If the presenting problem is from muscle spasm, heat would be beneficial. Heat would not be recommended directly after a massage or deep tissue work though. If you are unsure always go for ice
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How Does Heat Therapy Work
In general terms, using a heated back brace or soaking in a warm tub brings a lot of therapeutic benefits. For most people, heat is comforting, relaxing and reassuring.
Chronic pain goes hand-in-hand with sensitization, anxiety, tension, and hypervigilance. Applying comfortable heat to your stiff back muscles or relaxing in a sauna can soothe an over-stressed nervous system.
More scientifically speaking, heat can help your blood vessels to dilate, allowing blood to flow more freely. This helps with the removal of toxins and encourages healing.
Heating Back Pain Does Help
While heat is not a miracle cure for pain, and is , it does help relieve swelling and the intensity of back pain. When it comes to the back, heat is always preferred for treatment. Whether you are soaking in a hot tub to relieve the pain, or laying on a warm heating pad, you will experience extensive relief from the pain. Unfortunately, the pain tends to return after the skin cools down.
On the other hand, if the heat applied is too intense, it can cause the back muscles to recoil from the heat, causing the spasm to become worse, or even triggering a second muscle spasm around the area of the existing pain.
While ice causes trigger points in the back to over react, heat does not cause these trigger points to fire. This is why heating the area to a moderate temperature can relieve pain long enough for anti-inflammatory medications to work their way into your system.
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When To Call Your Doctor
With these treatments, your pain should go away on its own. Call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms, because they could be signs of a bigger problem:
- The pain lasts for more than 3 days.
- It moves from your back to other parts of your body.
- You also have fever or loss of bladder or bowel control.
American Chiropractic Association: âBack Pain Facts and Statistics.â
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: âWhat Is Back Pain?â
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: âLow Back Pain.â
Harvard Medical School: âBed Rest for Back Pain? A Little Bit Will Do You.â
National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke: âLow Back Pain Fact Sheet.â
Johns Hopkins Medicine: âCryotherapy for Pain Management.â
University of Michigan Health System: âLow Back Pain.â
Cochrane Library: âMotor Control Exercise for Chronic Non-specific Low Back Pain.â
Annals of Internal Medicine: âA comparison of the effects of 2 types of massage and usual care on chronic low back pain: a randomized, controlled trial.â
U.S. National Library of Medicine: âBack Pain.â
American Association of Neurological Surgeons: âLow Back Strain and Sprain,â âSpinal Infections,â âSpinal Tumors.â
Why Does Sciatica Pain Get Worse At Night
An unhealthy sleeping position or unsupportive bed can exert excess pressure on your lower back, further compressing the nerve roots. To avoid this, try sleeping on your back with pillows beneath your knees. This position will prevent pain by properly distributing body weight and optimizing spinal alignment.
If you suffer from chronic sciatica, consider investing in a mattress for back pain. Some beds are specifically constructed to prevent and relieve such pain, offering purposeful support and options fit for your particular sleeping position and body type.
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Heat Compress Is Ideal For Treating Chronic Injuries
For chronic injuries, apply a heat compress to the injured area for 15 to 20 minutes. You can use a warm, damp towel, a hot water bottle, a heat rub, or a heating pad. If you use a heating pad or hot water bottle, place a layer of protection between your skin and the bottle or pad to prevent burns.
Using heat to treat chronic sports injuries will help soothe aching muscles and joints, relax tight muscles, increase blood flow to the injury to reduce stiffness and increase the elasticity of tendons and ligaments.
In general, heat therapy is also recommended prior to exercise for those who have chronic injuries. Heat warms the muscles and helps increase flexibility. The only time you should ever consider using cold to treat a chronic injury is after you are finished exercising when inflammation may reappear. Applying cold at this time helps reduce any residual swelling.
When Should Contrast Therapy Be Avoided
Hot and cold therapy used only on the affected areas, as opposed to whole body contrasting, is generally a safe and easy treatment to carry out at home.
However, there are some situations when contrast therapy is not recommended. Avoid it if you have:
- An acute injury
Injuries that have occurred recently should not be treated with heat or contrast therapy, due to the effect of heat on inflammation. Ice is best in the days after injury, after which time contrast therapy can be used.
- An open wound or skin issues
The therapy may cause bleeding or increase the risk of infection in those with burns, boils, cysts, cuts, scrapes, or sunburn.
- Circulatory and heart conditions
Those with low blood pressure, poor circulation, or heart conditions may react adversely to extreme heat or cold.
- Cold urticaria
With this condition, hives form on the skin after exposure to cold temperatures.
- Fever or infection
Heat application may not be suitable for those who are already feeling warm due to fever or infection.
- Peripheral neuropathy/diabetic neuropathy
Since it can be difficult to feel pain with this condition, you may not be aware if you are burning your skin with ice or heat.
- Raynauds syndrome
Cold treatments would adversely affect this condition, which is characterized by constricted blood vessels in colder temperatures.
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