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Paraffin Wax for Arthritis - Topic Overview

You can use paraffin wax (may be called either paraffin or wax) to apply moist heat to your hands or feet to ease the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis. Paraffin especially helps to reduce pain and loosen up your hand and finger joints before exercise.

You should talk with your doctor before trying paraffin at home. And it's a good idea to have a physical therapist show you how to do it before you try it yourself.

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The pain of arthritis makes it tough for many people to get a good night’s sleep. Worse yet, tossing and turning at night can actually increase the perception of pain. “There’s a reciprocal relationship between pain and poor sleep. The poorer people sleep, the more pain they tend to be in,” says Kevin Fontaine, PhD, assistant professor of rheumatology at Johns Hopkins University. “If people with arthritis can improve the quality of their sleep, they can usually reduce their day-to-day pain.” Here...

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You will need:

  • 4 lb (1.8 kg) of paraffin wax. Paraffin is available in most places where canning supplies are sold.
  • 1 cup of mineral oil. You may be able to find some mineral oil that has a pleasant scent such as wintergreen.
  • Equipment for melting the wax. You can use a paraffin bath, available from a medical supply store, or a Crockpot or double boiler. If you use a Crockpot, a small one works fine for your hands. You'll need a large one if you want to do your feet.
  • A candy thermometer (if you're using a Crockpot or double boiler). If you get a paraffin bath from a medical supply store, it should have a thermometer.
  • Plastic wrap or plastic bags.
  • Terry cloth towel.
  • Rubber bands or tape.
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