What is Hot and Cold Therapy for Joint PainSEMGeeks
An easy and inexpensive way to treat arthritis-related aches and pains is by applying warm compresses or cold packs to the affected joints. This is known as hot and cold therapy. While this treatment method is fairly straightforward, many people still get confused over when to use a heating pad or ice pack, as well as how often to apply them.
This post will cover what hot and cold therapy is, why it works and how to use it correctly. Keep in mind that you can use this type of therapy alongside other treatments as well.
What is Hot and Cold Therapy? How Does it Work?
There’s a reason why you reach for a heating pad or warm blanket when you’re feeling tired and sore. Applying heat can relax muscles and lubricate joints, relieving muscle and joint stiffness. Heat also stimulates blood flow and improves circulation, which can help increase your range of motion.
On the other hand, applying a cold pack can reduce swelling and inflammation related to joint pain. It can also numb the area so that you don’t feel as much pain. Some people even find that by applying an ice pack or cold bag of vegetables to the affected joint, they can get it back down to size.
Some people alternate between cold and heat therapy. For example, they may use heat therapy to warm up their joints and cold therapy to ease swelling later in the day.
The Benefits of Using Hot and Cold Therapy for Arthritis Pain
Hot and cold therapy is safe and effective. You don’t have to worry about unfavorable side effects like you do from certain medications. It’s also inexpensive and easy to do. All you need is an ice pack and a heating pad. You may also use a gel pack that can be frozen or microwaved, or a small towel soaked in cold or hot water.
In addition to preventing joint-related pain, hot and cold therapy can also be used to treat muscle aches, spasms and pains caused by back pain, neck pain or fibromyalgia. The benefits are immediate, so you can enjoy your favorite book or TV show while applying heat or cold.
How to Apply Heat and Ice Effectively
Even though hot and cold therapy is safe, there are a few things to know. First, you should never apply heat to a joint that’s already hot, red and irritated. Also, you should never apply ice to a joint that’s already stiff and not moving well. Heat helps muscles relax, and cold relieves pain. Therefore, it’s important to know when to apply each.
Second, you don’t want to leave the heat or cold on the joint for an extended period of time. Heat and cold should be applied for about 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day. This will prevent damage to the skin. Lastly, you should apply a cloth or towel in between the cold/heat source and your skin.
Alternatives to Hot and Cold Therapy
If you aren’t seeing results or getting relief from hot and cold therapy, contact a pain management specialist. There are many ways to alleviate arthritis pain, so your pain doctor may recommend physical therapy, PRP injections, stem cell injections or steroid injections.
Jersey Rehab is a pain management clinic that treats arthritis pain. Not only do we relieve our clients’ pain but also help them lead more active lifestyles. To schedule an appointment, contact our pain management specialists at one of our two locations.