Is heat good for arthritis pain?
It may seem counterproductive to use heat treatment for arthritis if much of the pain and discomfort tends to be caused by inflammation, but it’s actually one of the simplest and most effective ways to ease the symptoms. Plus, it’s easy on your wallet!
When you heat your body, you increase and improve circulation, which sends the nutrients to your sore muscles and joints. You also warm up your body for exercising, which is extremely important!
I mean, who really wants to risk further injury moving around with cold and tense muscles?
Now that you know how helpful heat can be in reducing your arthritis symptoms, let’s look at some of the different ways heat can be introduced to your daily self-treatment plan.
1. Heating Pad for Knee Pain and Arthritis in Hands
An electric heating pad provides an inexpensive way to apply heat to specific parts of your body most often affected by arthritis like your knees and hands. For a more portable option you can take with you to the gym or put inside your gloves when it’s cold, grab an air activated heating pad. Finally, you can always heat a wet cloth in the microwave to create your own!
Just make sure you’re wrapping the pad in a cloth, so it doesn’t make direct contact with your skin for too long, as redness and irritation can occur.
You can usually leave the pad on for up to 20 minutes, but it’s always best to see how you feel with it and adjust accordingly.
2. Soak in a Hot Tub or Whirlpool
This one is pretty obvious:
Kick your sore feet up, sit back and relax in a hot tub or whirlpool at your local fitness center!
Everyone-from weekend warriors to professional athletes-knows how good this feels when suffering from muscle and joint pain. Plus, the pressure from the water jets can act as a soothing massage further increase your circulation and get you limbered up!
No hot tub at your local gym?
No worries, we’ve got a simple solution for this one, too. Drumroll…
Take a hot shower or bath at home!
Sure, it’s not as fancy or luxurious, but it’s a cheap and easy alternative if you don’t want to pay for a fitness club membership. Plus, the commute isn’t so bad! Just replace your current showerhead with one that has massage jet settings and presto: as good as any health center hot tub, but in the comfort of your own home.
3. Sauna Therapy for Arthritis
Finally, we come to my favorite method for using heat treatment for arthritis pain:
Used extensively for centuries in Scandinavia and popular in many other regions worldwide, sauna therapy often involves basking in the elevated warmth of a small enclosed room. Studies suggest it improves blood flow circulation, which helps transport oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout your body as we mentioned before.
Most importantly, a study conducted with infrared sauna technology found the therapy was well-tolerated and helped to reduce chronic pain and fatigue related to rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis without exacerbating symptoms.
Using a sauna offers a host of other health benefits too, including reduced stress, improved cardiovascular health, and a higher level of detoxification through sweating.
That being said, it’s important you drink plenty of water to remain hydrated and maintain a healthy diet complete with natural supplements to replenish those nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E your body has utilized or sweat out. Much like with the hotpads, you don’t want to expose your body to the heat for too long. Build up a tolerance in increments of 10-15 minutes, and don’t be afraid to step outside to cool off.
What About Arthritis and Hot Weather?
While the research behind the connection between increased pain and hot weather is lacking, we understand the pain you feel is real. This is because the extended periods of heat and humidity may change the amount of fluid in the joints and/or increase inflammation.
It’s important to note the consistent heat and humidity experienced in the dead of summer is different than the acute treatment we suggested. Overexposing yourself to a state of hyperthermia, or elevated body temperature does not offer the same benefits and should be avoided.
Final Word: Healing with Heat Treatment for Arthritis Pain
Make no mistake:
Using heat for short periods of time to reduce joint and muscle pain associated with arthritis brings simple and inexpensive relief to sufferers. Whether you decide to apply an electric or homemade heating pad, soak in a whirlpool, or sit in the sauna, you’ll experience the benefits.
Heat treatment brings faster relief when paired with a healthy supplement and diet regimen and to always consult your doctor to make sure it’s right for you!
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