Consider Heat or Ice

Consider Heat or Ice

Heat helps soothe stiff joints and relax muscles. Cold helps numb sharp pain and reduce inflammation. Use temperature therapy to complement meds and self-care. It's simple, affordable, soothing -- and you have to sit down to use either one.

Conditions: Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, neck pain

Symptoms: stiffness, aching, muscle pain, pain, lower back pain, upper back pain, muscle spasms, arm pain, buttock pain, foot pain, hip pain, leg pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, thigh pain, reduced joint movement, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, neck stiffness, ankle pain, elbow pain, finger pain, hand pain, knee pain, wrist pain, tender points, tenderness, symptoms worse in A.M., symptoms worse in evening

Triggers:

Treatments:

Categories: treatment

Duration

7

Packs and Compresses

For short-term pain relief, make a pack from items such as:

* An electric heating pad

* A gel pack that can be microwaved or frozen

* A bag of ice or frozen vegetables

Whether hot or cold, wrap the pack in a pillow case to help protect your skin.

Or make a compress -- a washcloth or small towel soaked in hot or cold water, wrung out, and folded. 

Apply to the painful area for 15-20 minutes several times daily.

Prompt: The direct approach.

CTA: Put therapy where the pain is.

Conditions: Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, neck pain

Symptoms: stiffness, aching, muscle pain, pain, lower back pain, upper back pain, muscle spasms, arm pain, buttock pain, foot pain, hip pain, leg pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, thigh pain, reduced joint movement, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, neck stiffness, ankle pain, elbow pain, finger pain, hand pain, knee pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, wrist pain, tender points, tenderness, symptoms worse in A.M., symptoms worse in evening

Triggers: carrying or lifting, excess activity, exercising, gardening, heavy lifting, holding a child, housework, repetitive motions, sports injury, inactivity, overuse, workplace injury, barometric pressure changes, cold weather, damp weather, weather changes, overdoing it

Treatments: cold compress/cold packs, heat therapy, hot compress, ice, physical therapy

Categories: treatments

Don't Overdo It

It's normal for your skin to look a little pinker after using cold or heat. Before adding new ice or turning the heat back on, let your skin return to its normal color and temperature.

If you see any of these signs after removing the warm or cold pack, call your doctor. These are signs the temperature was too extreme and may indicate skin damage.

* Purplish-red, dark red, or spotty red and white color

* Hives

* Swelling

* Blisters

Prompt: Caution!

CTA: Avoid temperature extremes.

Conditions: Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, neck pain

Symptoms: stiffness, aching, muscle pain, pain, lower back pain, upper back pain, muscle spasms, arm pain, buttock pain, foot pain, hip pain, leg pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, thigh pain, reduced joint movement, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, neck stiffness, ankle pain, elbow pain, finger pain, hand pain, knee pain, wrist pain, tender points, tenderness, symptoms worse in A.M., symptoms worse in evening

Triggers: heat, overdoing it

Treatments: cold compress/cold packs, heat therapy, hot compress, ice, hot bath/shower, physical therapy

Categories: treatments

Heated Wax Therapy

Another way to apply heat, especially to hands, elbows, and feet, is warm, melted paraffin.

A heated container (available at drugstores and beauty supply stores) safely melts paraffin and mineral oil to make a paraffin bath. Dip the painful body part several times to build up a warm layer. Then cover it with plastic and wrap in a towel for 10-15 minutes until the wax cools. Unwrap and peel the wax away.

To avoid irritation and pain, make sure the skin where you treat has no cuts or sores.

Prompt: Wax on.

CTA: Surround your joints with heat.

Conditions: Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia

Symptoms: stiffness, aching, muscle pain, pain, lower back pain, upper back pain, muscle spasms, arm pain, buttock pain, foot pain, hip pain, leg pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, thigh pain, reduced joint movement, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, neck stiffness, ankle pain, elbow pain, finger pain, hand pain, knee pain, wrist pain, tender points, tenderness, symptoms worse in A.M., symptoms worse in evening

Triggers: excess activity, gardening, housework, repetitive motions, sports injury, inactivity, overuse, workplace injury, barometric pressure changes, cold weather, damp weather, weather changes, overdoing it

Treatments: heat therapy, physical therapy

Categories: treatments

Low-Level Heat

If you find that heat helps ease your pain, try a continuous low-level heat wrap, available at drugstores. It's a convenient way to keep painful areas warm. You can wear a heat wrap for up to 8 hours, even while you sleep. Follow the directions carefully.

Studies suggest that low-level, long-term heat applied directly on the skin can significantly reduce stiffness and tension and increase flexibility. Positive effects can last for 48 hours or longer.

Prompt: Keep it warm.

CTA: Use a heat wrap for longer relief.

Conditions: Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia

Symptoms: stiffness, aching, muscle pain, pain, lower back pain, upper back pain, muscle spasms, arm pain, buttock pain, hip pain, leg pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, thigh pain, reduced joint movement, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, neck stiffness, ankle pain, elbow pain, knee pain, wrist pain, tender points, tenderness, symptoms worse in A.M., symptoms worse in evening

Triggers: carrying or lifting, excess activity, exercising, gardening, heavy lifting, holding a child, housework, repetitive motions, sports injury, inactivity, overuse, workplace injury, barometric pressure changes, cold weather, damp weather, weather changes, overdoing it

Treatments: heat therapy, hot compress, physical therapy

Categories: treatments

 

Hydrotherapy

Showers and baths aren't just for mornings. When you're hurting, stand under or settle into warm water for a few minutes to help soothe and relax you. (If you're over 70 or have heart problems, check with your doctor before getting into a hot tub.)

Try a warm shower or bath before you exercise to help loosen joints and muscles.

Use cool water after exercise to help calm deep, burning pain and reduce inflammation.

Keep in mind, a bath can be for your whole body or just a part.

Prompt: Have a soak.

CTA: Treat larger areas with water.

Conditions: Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia

Symptoms: stiffness, aching, muscle pain, pain, lower back pain, upper back pain, muscle spasms, cramps, pain at night, all over pain, tender points, feeling cold, tender points, tenderness, symptoms worse in A.M., symptoms worse in evening, arm pain, buttock pain, hip pain, leg pain, shoulder pain, thigh pain, reduced joint movement, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, ankle pain, elbow pain, knee pain, wrist pain,

Triggers: excess activity, overdoing it, carrying or lifting, excess activity, exercising, gardening, heavy lifting, holding a child, housework, repetitive motions, sports injury, inactivity, overuse, workplace injury, barometric pressure changes, cold weather, damp weather, weather changes, overdoing it

Treatments: heat therapy, relaxation, hot bath/shower

Categories: treatments

Warm Clothes

Want an easier -- and less painful -- start to your day? Tumble your clothes in the dryer for a few minutes before you put them on. The warm clothes will heat you up and may help ease morning pain and stiffness.

Better yet: Ask your mate to put your clothes in the dryer while you rest for a few extra minutes in bed.

Prompt: Warm up.

CTA: Heat clothes in the dryer before dressing.

Conditions: Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia

Symptoms: stiffness, aching, muscle pain, pain, lower back pain, upper back pain, muscle spasms, cramps, pain worse in A.M., all over pain, tender points, feeling arm pain, buttock pain, hip pain, leg pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, thigh pain, reduced joint movement, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, neck stiffness, ankle pain, elbow pain, knee pain, wrist pain, tender points, tenderness, symptoms worse in A.M., symptoms worse in evening

Triggers: cold weather, temperature changes, damp weather

Treatments: heat therapy, rest

Categories: treatments

 

Contrast Baths

Get 2 tubs or containers large enough for your painful area ready with warm and cold water. Soak in the warm tub for about 5 minutes then plunge into the cold tub for about 1 minute. Go back to the warm for a few more minutes, then the cold for a minute. Repeat 4-5 times.

While in the cold bath, have someone add water to the warm one to bring the temperature up.

Contrast baths increase blood flow to help reduce swelling and pain and promote healing.

Prompt: Mix it up.

CTA: Alternate warm and cold treatment.

Conditions: Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia

Symptoms: stiffness, aching, muscle pain, pain, , muscle spasms, tender points, arm pain, reduced joint movement, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, ankle pain, elbow pain, knee pain, wrist pain, tender points, tenderness

Triggers: excess activity, overdoing it, carrying or lifting, exercising, gardening, heavy lifting, holding a child, housework, repetitive motions, sports injury, inactivity, overuse, workplace injury, barometric pressure changes, cold weather, damp weather, weather changes

Treatments: heat therapy, relaxation, hot bath/shower, sauna

Categories: treatments

 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on April 19, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

Arthritis Today: "5 Steps to Pain Relief."

Arthritis Today: "Using Heat and Cold for Pain Relief."

Johns Hopkins Rheumatology: "Rehabilitation Management of RA."

Beck, M. Theory & Practice of Therapeutic Massage, 5th ed. Milady, 2010.

Arthritis Foundation: "Pain Center: Use Heat and Cold."

Cleveland Clinic: "Occupational and Physical Therapy for Arthritis."

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: "Handout on Health: Back Pain."

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: "Low Back Pain Fact Sheet."

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