Hand and Finger Rheumatoid Arthritis
Can moist heat or ice help RA pain?
Moist heat and ice are both effective in easy RA pain and stiffness.
Try using warm, moist compresses on your arthritic fingers and hands for 15 minutes before you exercise. Moist heat dilates blood vessels and increases the flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the painful site.
You may use a moist heating pad, a warm, damp towel, or a hydrocollator pack. You can also place your hands in a moist heat bath or try a warm paraffin (wax) bath. It may help your stiffness to use the moist heat for a few minutes after exercising.
Some patients with RA prefer ice packs, which reduce swelling and pain by constricting blood vessels. You might try a bag of frozen vegetables or ice wrapped in a clean towel. Apply this to the painful joint for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
Alternating moist heat applications with ice packs may bring optimal relief. The most important thing is to find the pain-relieving therapy that works best for you. Then, make it part of your daily ritual to use the moist heat and/or ice packs before and after exercise.