Relieve Arthritis Pain with Heat and Cold
What can you do about the pain and inflammation of arthritis? Aside from taking anti-inflammatory medications and making lifestyle changes, many people have discovered that heat and cold treatments help to ease the aches and stiffness of arthritis. Below are some tips for using these methods to relieve your pain.
Using Heat to Relieve Pain
Blood vessels dilate, blood circulation is stimulated, and muscle spasms are eased when heat is applied to the body. In addition, heat alters the sensation of pain signals that are sent to the brain. Dry heat therapies such as heating pads, disposable heat patches, or heat lamps are very convenient to use. Moist heat therapies include taking warm baths, soaking in a hot tub, or partaking in gentle exercise in a heated pool. Some people place warm washcloths over the painful area, while others have found relief using a therapeutic mixture of mineral oil and paraffin. Whatever heat therapy you try, remember that the temperature should not be hot enough to burn your skin.
Using Cold to Relieve Pain
When cold is applied to the body, the bloods vessels in the affected area constrict, reducing the swelling and inflammation that accompanies arthritis. Cold is also useful for numbing pain. Gel ice packs are particularly suited for the inflammation of an arthritis flare. Alternatively, instant cold packs can be made from bags of frozen vegetables. The use of vapocoolant sprays such as fluoromethane and ethyl chloride is another popular choice for cold pain relief of arthritis.
Experiment and Be Patient
What works for some may not work for others. It is worth a little trial and error to discover the right combination of remedies that give you the most pain relief from arthritis. You also need to give the therapies time to relieve your pain. Both heat and cold therapies should be used for at least 15 minutes to be effective. Many folks have found that applying heat or cold immediately before and after exercise goes a long way to help them manage their pain. Have a chat with your doctor about what works right for you.