How Does Heat And Cold Help Arthritis Pain
Heat or cold therapy works by stimulating your body’s own healing force. For instance, heat dilates the blood vessels, stimulates blood circulation, and reduces muscle spasms. In addition, heat alters the sensation of pain. You can use either dry heat — such as heating pads or heat lamps — or moist heat — such as warm baths or heated wash cloths.
Conversely, cold compresses reduce swelling by constricting blood vessels. While cold packs may be uncomfortable at first, they can numb deep pain.
Should I Use Heat Or Cold For Sciatica
The answer is, it depends. When it comes to using heat or cold for sciatica treatment you must first get the pain properly assessed. Given the two different types of sciatica its essential that you first determine the origin of the pain. Only then will you know whether to use heat or ice to treat your sciatica.
As there are several different condition types that produce sciatic pain so its essential you determine whether it is entrapment or compression first because the conditions are different and theyre treated differently.
If youve got an entrapment type sciatica and youre treating it as compression or vice-versa, then it wont get better. In fact, its more likely to get worse. So use our pain assessment tool to find the likely cause of your pain. Youll get a treatment guide full of expert advice included in the price.
The Art Of Using Hot And Cold Therapy
Hot and cold therapy each have their own appropriate uses. You should never apply heat to a joint that is already hot, red, and irritated, for example, nor should you apply cold to a joint that’s stiff and not moving well. Remember, heat helps muscles relax cold helps to minimize inflammation and pain.
It’s also important to be careful when using hot and cold therapy to manage arthritis pain, or you might end up with damage to your skin from exposure to relatively extreme temperatures.
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Here are suggestions for safely using heat therapy devices such as a heating pad, a heat pack, a hand towel soaked in hot water, a warm water soak, or a hot water bottle:
- Make sure that the temperature is never uncomfortably high you don’t want to put your skin at risk for burns.
- Place a cloth or towel between your skin and the heat source to prevent burns.
- Don’t apply heat to skin that is cut or injured in any way.
- Never apply heat for longer than 20 minutes at a time.
Suggestions for safely using cold therapy devices such as a cold pack, a bag of frozen vegetables, or a bag of ice:
After using heat or cold on your joint pain, always evaluate your skin and look for any signs of damage like a change in color, rash, or blisters.
Switching between hot and cold therapy can offer excellent arthritis pain management benefits, as long as each one is used appropriately.
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Heat Vs Cold Therapy: How They Work And When To Use Them
Although it seems like a simple concept, one question that we are commonly asked is when to use ice versus heat therapy to treat pain. In this post, we will discuss how each one works on a physiologic level, and when to use each one. Both heat and cold therapy are an inexpensive and easy-to-use treatment for the management of acute, chronic, and postoperative pain. These therapies are also great to use after vigorous exercise to stimulate healing. One main point to keep in mind is that ice reduces inflammation, while heat stimulates blood flow. Knowing that simple fact can help if theres ever a question about when to use which one.
Unlike cold therapy, heat therapy stimulates blood flow. This is helpful in the treatment of pain due to chronic, overuse type injuries or disease processes. Pain from sore or tight muscles is often associated with a buildup of lactic acid. Applying heat to these areas helps to stimulate the flow of oxygen-rich blood which can decrease the amount of lactic acid in the muscles, thereby decreasing pain and improving range of motion. Heat may also lead to pain relief by way of muscle relaxation. When using heat at therapeutic levels, collagen tissue relaxes and elongates, easing tension built up in the muscles. Using heat in conjunction with a stretching or home exercise program or along with a formal physical therapy program will provide the greatest results.
Similarities between Heat and Cold Therapy
When to Use What?
Ice Or Heat: Which Is Best For A Swollen Knee
Knee pain is one of the most common and debilitating joint issues, affecting millions of people on a daily basis. Whether the pain is caused by an acute injury like a tear or overuse, or its the result of too much weight or regular wear and tear, there are a number of structures in the knee joint itself that can be the source of the pain. Weve all heard of icing for pain, but sometimes, heat is a much better source of relief. When it comes to painful, swollen knee treatments, which is best, ice or heat?
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When To Use Heat Vs Ice
Conventional wisdom says this:
- Cold therapy reduces blood flow to the area, which can decrease swelling and inflammation. This can be especially soothing if you have an acute injury say, your joints hurt worse than usual because you were gardening all weekend.
- Heat therapy increases blood flow to the area, which helps blood vessels dilate, drawing in more oxygen and nutrients. This can be especially soothing for stiff joints, especially for people who experience morning stiffness because of arthritis.
As this Cleveland Clinic article says, for an acute injury, such as a pulled muscle or injured tendon, the usual recommendation is to start by applying ice to reduce inflammation and dull pain. Once inflammation has gone down, heat can be used to ease stiffness.
If youre choosing between ice and heat, for the most part, it really just depends on what type of problem youre dealing with, says Brett Smith, DO, a rheumatologist at Blount Memorial Physicians Group in Alcoa, Tennessee. Youre trying to get the opposite effect of whats going on. If youre physically swollen, you want to try and cool that down to allow you to have less pain. If youre not physically swollen, then youre trying to heat it up to increase blood flow to help with the healing process.
Both ice and heat therapy may decrease the transmission of pain signals to the brain, which can also help with pain relief.
If You Answered With Stiffness In The Knee Muscles
Heat, heat and more heat. Honestly, the best results Ive seen come when someone has applied heat to the knee muscles to allow better movement and less of that horrible cant-bend-your-knee sensation.
For best effects, use this method:
- Start sitting in a chair
- Take a hot water bottle
- Slip it over your thigh and apply it to the stiffest area
- Keep it there for 15 minutes, then remove
- Allow the skin to cool to a natural temperature, then repeat the process
- Always look out for any signs of heat burn on your skin and remove immediately if you see or feel anything.
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Ice Or Heat After Tkr
I think everyone agrees that icing is the best treatment immediately following tkr but at what point is it recommended to use heat? I read Dr Gabe Mirkin’s “why ice delays recovery” and his statements seem controversial but make some sense.
0 likes, 20 replies
People seem to use heat a few months after TKR…..just to reduce stiffness and help
Muscles relax before exercising. I guess I started using it by taking warm baths which
Must have been around five weeks. I had to be careful to not let the operated
Leg get too warm though, or it just increased the swelling. It was good for working on the bend though!
Posted 4 years ago
How many weeks are you? I’m 13 weeks post surgery. Just ordered an electric heat pad, should be here tomorrow. I’ve only been ice until now.
Posted 4 years ago
Just over ten weeks! Does seem like much longer! Cant quite remember what life was like before, but it is good to be free of the arthritic tyrant pain.
Iced from day 1 and still do it if needed..
Posted 4 years ago
I know that ice should reduce swelling, and I guess heat should encourage blood flow to damaged tissue. BUT – this is what I don’t understand – while the ice is reducing swelling, is it reducing the blood flow so preventing healing to some extent…. And is the heat increasing swelling…..? Does one neutralise the other??????? Is that a silly question??????
How To Treat Your Knee With Cold Therapy
If you decide to ice your knee you should do this as part of PRICE therapy, which stands for protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation.
When using ice, you should apply it as soon as possible for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours during the day and for the first 48 to 72 hours.
During this time you should avoid heat, such as hot baths, saunas or heat packs, which may encourage bleeding.
After 48 to 72 hours the aim of any treatment changes from reducing bleeding and swelling to getting the tissues moving with exercise and stretching.
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The Donts Of Applying Hot Packs For Arthritis
- Now, it isnt difficult to guess that heat can make acute inflammation worse. Heat should NOT be applied in acute pain, acute injuries, and in bleeding, even when these occur to an arthritic joint. Applying heat to a fresh injury will only worsen the pain.
- Do not use heat if you have any open wounds or substantial bruises
- Not recommended for patients with diabetes
Note: Tiger balms and other capsaicin-containing topical ointments are only spicy that is they make you feel hot they do not increase heat physiologically. They distract our mind from pain they do not affect pain.
When To Chill And When To Heat
Many of these conditions are treatable with medication as prescribed by your health care provider. And, for other situations, over-the-counter pain relievers may be enough to help. But you still may need further relief so here are a few tips to keep in mind when deciding between ice or heat for aching muscles and joints.
Reminder: if any of these conditions are new or dont resolve quickly, be sure to contact your health care provider for more treatment options.
First of all, do not use heat on acute injuries because that extra heat can increase inflammation and delay proper healing.
When dealing with injuries, its best to predominantly choose ice if the injury is acute . The chill constricts blood vessels which numbs pain, relieves inflammation and limits bruising.
If youre sensitive to cold then ice may initially seem uncomfortable or even painful to apply. Heat can feel warm, cozy and be tempting to toss on an injury, says primary care sports medicine physician Anne Rex, DO. But dont be fooled! Ice wins to shut down swelling, inflammation and pain early on where heat may actually make an injury worse.
If youre dealing with lingering injuries then its okay to use heat. The increased blood flow relaxes tight muscles and relieves aching joints. This is especially helpful to improve range of motion on a joint that maybe isnt moving as well.
Muscle strains and sprains
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When Not To Use Cold Or Heat Packs:
- If you have areas of skin with open wounds or rashes.
- If you have areas of skin with poor sensation to heat or cold.
- If you have areas of the body with known poor circulation.
- If you have diabetes.
- If you have an infection under your skin.
If the treatment hasnt helped much with regular use, or makes your pain worse, see your doctor to discuss other treatment options. Its also important to call your doctor if you develop any bruising or skin changes while using cold or heat therapy.
What’s Better To Treat Your Knee: Ice Or Heat
Ice and heat are the best treatment combination for you if:
- You’re looking to boost the natural power of pain relief and healing in your body.
- You don’t want to repeatedly pay the cost of injections, medications, hospital visits or surgery.
- You want to help reduce the risk of re-injury, pain or swelling in your knee.
- You want to control your own treatment and healing at home, on your own time.
- You’re looking for a tried, tested, and true method of healingthat’s been used for centuries and has worked for countless other knee pain sufferers.
How to Use Superior Temperature Treatments to Heal & Relieve Pain from Your Knee Injury!
Combining cold and warmth is a simple yet effective way to get immediate pain relief and promote long-term healing. In your lifetime you’ve probably had your mom, family doctor, nurse, surgeon or physical therapist tell you to use ice right after you’re injured and something warm from time to time once the swelling’s gone down. It’s a simple yet very effective way to relieve pain and promote healing in your knee.
Knee injuries can happen to anyone, right now there are thousands of doctors and physical therapists dealing with patients that require a solution to treat their knee injury fast and heal it .
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How To Safely Apply Ice And Heat
You can apply ice and heat in lots of ways. Our experts generally recommend up to 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off:
- Ice packs: Frozen peas or corn, ice cubes in a baggie or frozen gel pack. You can ice beyond 48 hours, until swelling, tenderness or inflammation are gone.
- Ice massage: Freeze water in a Dixie cup, peel back the top, and massage the tender area until its numb. .
- Cold masks: Place a cold mask, available at drugstores, over your eyes or lay a towel soaked in cold water over your forehead and temples.
- Moist heat: Enjoy a bath, shower, hot tub or whirlpool using warm, not hot, water .
- Heat wraps: Drape a heat wrap, available at drugstores, around your neck like a scarf .
- Heating pads: To avoid burns, remove heating pads if the area becomes uncomfortably warm.
Has Knee Pain Impacted Your Daily Activities
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When Should You Use Cold To Treat Your Knee Pain
Cold compression works best to relieve pain, swelling and inflammation for new injuries, re-injury and during immediate post surgery recovery. Cold therapy should also be used during the first 24 – 72 hours of treatment, combined with resting your injury.
If you’ve been suffering for some time with a chronic knee injury you should only use cold after activity causes you more pain or triggers more inflammatory response symptoms . This would be when your knee starts to hurt at the end of the day after you’ve been on your feet, active in athletics, or performing any other tasks that has put a lot of weight or stress on your knee. When used at this time cold compression becomes a natural / organic pain reliever, treating the site where you feel the pain.
Sometimes we feel pain while doing a certain activity – should you still use cold? Too much cold therapy can reduce your ability to heal correctly, because cold is a short term painrelievernot a soft tissue healer.
We put milk in the fridge so it will stay fresh longer. We do this so it will stay in the same condition as when we bought it. Your injury is no different. Too much cold will keep your injury in the same state – slowing down the healing process. This can sometimes make chronic injuries linger even longer. Heat should be used when you suffer from a chronic, tight or stiff knee injury and after you reduce swelling, pain and inflammation with cold.
Here are a couple of examples for when to use cold :
Use Heat And Cold To Ease Arthritic Joints
When arthritic joints become stiff or painful, we explain how and when to use the application of heat and cold for arthritis for simple, effective relief.
Arthritis is the number one cause of disability in our country. More than 50 million Americans are affected by this disease. This number that represents one out of every five adults and approximately 300,000 children. People of all ages and races are vulnerable to this joint-disabling condition. It is most common among women, and our chance of developing arthritis increases as we age.
Because there is currently no cure for arthritis, many people are under the impression that there is nothing they can do to manage their symptoms. In fact, medicine offers many helpful treatments for arthritis. Some therapies help with pain, and others improve the function of affected joints. In some cases, early treatments can actually slow the progress of the disease. Below we demonstrate how best to use heat and cold for arthritis.
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