What Is Better For Arthritis Heat Or Cold - ArthritisDaily.net (2023)

When To Use Ice For Psa Pain Relief

Heat or cold for arthritis? When to use heat and cold

Let’s do a symptom check – are your joints currently warm and swollen? Dr. Mala Kaul, a rheumatologist and speaker at the event, stated that cold packs should be used when joints are inflamed and feel hot. “When there is inflammation, you want the blood vessels to constrict, so that’s when cold is good. When you put something cold on the body all the blood vessels start to constrict,” explained Dr. Kaul. This constricting can numb the area, ultimately dulling the pain.

She also advised that heat should never be used on an area that feels warm to touch. Heat to an area that is already hot can cause further swelling and redness.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, cold packs will help to alleviate pain by restricting blood vessels and slowing down circulation which decreases swollen joints and inflammation. It is also useful if the area which is flared feels hot, is red, or has a burning sensation.

Dr. Kaul warns one should never use a cold pack to joints which are stiff or if you have circulatory issues.

Cold packs, bags of frozen veggies wrapped with a towel, or ice baths for the affected areas are all adequate ways to relieve pain using cold temperatures.

If You Answered With Pain In The Knee Joint

You might want to opt for ice. If your main problem is knee joint pain, I would apply the ice directly to the most painful area of the joint.

Youll want to use a few layers between the ice and your skin. My preferred method would be:

  • Take a bag of frozen peas from the freezer
  • Wrap a thin towel around them
  • Dampen the towel slightly, then apply to the painful area for 15 minutes
  • Remove the peas/towel and let the area heat back up to its natural skin temperature
  • You can then apply the peas/towel again. There is no limit to how many times you can do this.
  • Always look out for any signs of ice burn on your skin and remove immediately if you see or feel anything.

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When Should I Use Heat Therapy

Dr. Rama notes that heat therapy is best for chronic issues, such as stiffness caused by arthritis, which bring about feelings of dull and achy pain. However, she also states that you can use heat therapy when you are exiting the acute phase of injury and entering the subacute phase.

Listen to your body! exclaims Dr. Rama. If the area still appears inflamed and radiating with pain and redness, it is likely too early to apply heat therapy. But if you feel that you have transitioned, then change your therapy plan, too.

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The Benefits Of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, teeth and muscles, as well as your immune system. You get most of your vitamin D from direct sunlight when your skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays.

According to Cancer Research UK, the length of time you need in the sun to make enough vitamin D depends on skin type, time of day or year, and where you are in the world.

There are no set guidelines on how much time is needed in the sun, but those with lighter skins may need just 10 minutes of sunlight every day in the UK, while those with darker skin may need around 25 minutes.

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There are guidelines on vitamin D supplementation for everyone in the UK, says Professor Walker-Bone. But if youre worried about your vitamin D levels and joint pain, its important to get advice from your GP or rheumatology team. They can check your vitamin D levels, ideally in the winter months when they are likely to be lower.

Some people find their psoriasis gets better when theyre out in the sun, but more research is needed to see if sunlight helps psoriatic arthritis.

Natural sunlight can help skin psoriasis, but doesnt seem to help joint symptoms, says Professor WalkerBone. Many people with psoriatic arthritis dont have very bad skin, so PUVA treatment cant help.

  • Read more about the benefits of vitamin D

Dos And Donts While Using Heat Or Cold For Arthritis

What Is Better For Arthritis Heat Or Cold - ArthritisDaily.net (1)

  • Never apply heat treatment for more than 10 minutes at a time.
  • Cold treatment is not recommended to be used for more than 20 minutes at a time.
  • Be extremely careful while using a hot or cold bag.
  • Keep the temperatures at check to avoid any accidents.
  • If your body does not respond well to heat or cold treatment, better check and consult with a doctor.
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    Coldice / Cold As Pain Relief For Your Bursitis Injury

    COLD is used to treat injuries or conditions that are red, hot, inflamed, swollen and suffering from tissue damage . Cold is a natural / organic pain reliever that numbs pain right at the source of your injury. while doing this, the cold also stops tissue break-down and reduces the amount of scar tissue forming .

    When cold is applied to a bursitis injury, all of the soft tissue in the treatment area will squeeze on the veins to slow down blood flow. This in turn clamps down on the amount of fluid leaking into your injured tissue, decreasing your swelling. This is why cold is used immediately to treat newer soft tissue injuries or re-injuries. The cold slows down your body to stop the amount of damage happening to your tissue and decrease your swelling. This cold also has a nice side benefit of numbing the nerves in and around the area, thereby decreasing your pain.

    In the medical world this is something called Vasoconstriction.

    Cold can Make Your Bursa Injury Worse How?

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    Need Pain Relief While You Work

    I have tried heat and cold for my bursitis, but I am still in pain?, you say. Or maybe you need relief to just get through the work day. This is exactly why we created Workvie. Work vie , is for hardworking people like you that may still be working or wanting to get back to work, but your bursitis pain may be getting in the way. Lets face, carrying around ice and heat packs is not very convenient. You may want to try a numbing and anti-inflammatory cream like Workvie® Work Pain Relief System. You can use the cream during your work breaks to get relief throughout the day when you cant apply heat or cold compresses. It has an amazing scent that wont embarrass because nobody wants to smell like grandma.

    Workvie is a product brand dedicated to helping people that work with pain.

    If your bursitis pain persists for more than two weeks, seek your health care provider as soon as possible.

    This article is not intended to replace the advice of a medical doctor. Please consult with your primary physician.

    REFERENCES:

    (Video) Knee Arthritis Stretches & Exercises - Ask Doctor Jo

    • Oosterveld, F. G. J., et al. The effect of local heat and cold therapy on the intraarticular and skin surface temperature of the knee. Arthritis & Rheumatology2 : 146-151.
    • Lehmann, Justus F., ed. Therapeutic heat and cold. Williams & Wilkins, 1990.

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    Suitable for Sensitive Skin

    Recommended Reading: Same Dosage For Arthritis

    Using Heat Or Cold Remedies For Arthritis

    A major concern that arises is how exactly should one apply these methods or how often can they be used? We recommend using moist heat or ice packs in any of the above-mentioned forms at least twice a day for significant relief from your pain and stiffness.

    In a research conducted at the American College of Rheumatology, they stated that five to 10-minute ice massages applied on the pain site within the time span of first 48 hours of pain onset can provide relief effectively. So can heat treatment, which relaxes the muscles in the body. Heat packs should preferably be used for pain that lasts longer than 48 hours.

    Make Yourself A Hot Pocket In Bed

    Heat therapy or cold therapy? Hot water bag or ice pack? What works in arthritis?

    Cold definitely increases pain and stiffness for Angela K., 50, who has rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. One of her favorite tricks is to sleep with two heated blankets one on top, one on bottom, forming a heated cocoon she can lie in. On cold mornings, Ill often just soak in the warmth for a good 15 minutes before getting up, she says.

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    What Is Heat Therapy

    The role of heat therapy is to increase blood flow by dilating, or opening up, blood vessels. The goal here is to increase pliability, flexibility and mobility of the muscles and joints, elaborates Dr. Rama.

    Individuals can use methods of dry heat, such as heating pads, dry heating packs or saunas, or moist heat, such as steamed towels or hot baths, to target the pain areas. Moist heat is believed to be more effective and act more quickly, says Dr. Rama. But keep in mind the location of pain. If it is a small, localized area, heated gel packs may be best. If its a larger part of the body, though, steamed towels or hot baths may be more effective.

    How To Treat An Arthritis Flare

    Sometimes arthritis flare-ups cannot be prevented. At this point, all you can do is get through it the best you can. There are some things you can do that may help provide you some relief.

    Make a Plan

    You should try to have a plan in place for when you are experiencing arthritis flare-ups.

    If you have unavoidable activities that cannot be canceled when your arthritis acts up, let the key people involved know what is happening that way, accommodations can be made.

    Apply Heat or Cold

    You can choose to use a hot or cold compact or a hot/cold cream, whichever better fits your needs. If you are using a heating pad or an ice pack, youll want to apply it directly to the painful area for 15-20 minute intervals throughout the day. For the hot/cold cream, youll need to follow the product instructions and be sure not to overuse the topical treatment.

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    Rest

    When youre already in pain, its essential to get enough rest. You dont want to put more pressure on your inflamed joints.

    You may feel like you are getting behind, but your body needs the time to rest to not prolong the pain. Dont push yourself during a flare.

    Low-Impact Movement

    While you must get plenty of rest during a flare, you have to be careful of being too still.

    Its crucial to get in some low-impact movement like going for a short walk or stretching. There are also hand exercises you can do to keep the joints from becoming stiff.

    Consult Your Doctor

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    Why Is It Important To Know The Difference Between Using Heat Versus Cold Therapy

    If you dont use the right therapy at the right time to facilitate healing, you can sometimes make the problem even worse, says Dr. Rama. As always, though, make sure to consult with your doctor if you have any questions or have any concern with your health.

    The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

    How Can Weather Can Affect Arthritis

    What Is Better For Arthritis Heat Or Cold - ArthritisDaily.net (2)

    In 2019, the Cloudy with a Chance of Pain study, led by consultant rheumatologist Professor Will Dixon at the University of Manchester, assessed how weather affected more than 13,000 people in the UK with long-term health conditions, including arthritis and fibromyalgia.

    Participants used a smartphone app to record their daily symptoms and thing that affected their pain levels (such as sleep patterns and daily exercise, while GPS on their phone provided accurate weather reporting.

    The study, funded by Versus Arthritis, found that damp and windy days with low atmospheric pressure increased the chances of experiencing more pain than normal by around 20 per cent. Barometric pressure may affect your joints more than humidity, rainfall and temperature.

    According to the Met Office, high pressure tends to cause fine, warm weather, while low pressure can lead to prolonged rainfall and flooding.

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    Using Heat Or Ice For Knee Pain

    Depending on the situation, both ice and heat can be effective and convenient options for easing the pain in your knees. Because each treatment affects your leg in different ways, however, it is important to consider your specific condition before selecting one or the other. By better understanding the benefits and risks of each treatment, you can appropriately choose the option that is right for you.

    What Are Heat And Ice Therapy

    Simply put, heat therapy and ice therapy also known as thermal therapy mean applying something hot or cold to an affected area, which can affect how your body responds to pain, stiffness, and other arthritis symptoms.

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    Many arthritis patients swear by both heat and ice as part of their treatment plan whether for osteoarthritis, which is wear and tear to a joint that occurs when the cartilage breaks down, or inflammatory types of arthritis, which is when inflammatory chemicals from an overactive immune attack the joint.

    For Eddie A., who has psoriatic arthritis, warm baths are a go-to part of his self-care routine. In fact, before he was diagnosed with PsA, he would find himself needing to sit in the tub for 30 to 45 minutes each morning before work just to loosen up my hands, he recalls.

    Heat and ice are everything for me, Deanna K., who also has psoriatic arthritis, told CreakyJoints.

    In its latest treatment guidelines for the management of osteoarthritis, the American College of Rheumatology conditionally recommends thermal interventions for osteoarthritis in the knee, hip, or hand, for example. In other words, theres likely little harm in trying it, but its not a magic bullet.

    Even though heat and cold are opposites, they can both reduce inflammation and ease pain and stiffness around the joints. They do so in different ways and may have different uses. That said, there is little scientific research on when to use one form over another.

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    And The Short Answer Is

    Fortunately, whether youve used hot or cold compresses overthe years, research shows that both are effective for helping peoplesuffering from osteoarthritis. When heat is applied to a joint, it causesthe blood vessels to dilate, increasing blood flow to the area, which in turncan help with pain and inflammation. On the other side of the coin, cold causesthe blood vessels to constrict and numbs the tissues, which can help with acutediscomfort.

    In the end, whichever one you choose, science shows that itcan help soothe a troubled jointits mostly up to your preference. Whether youget your heat from a hot shower, warm washcloth, or heating pad doesnt matteras well. The same applies to using a bag of ice or frozen peas. The only thingto keep in mind is that either method should only be applied to the skin in10-15 minute incrementsany longer than that could potentially damage it.

    Managing Your Arthritis In Warmer Weather

    When to use heat or cold for knee pain?

    Weve been lucky to enjoy some warm days recently and while most of us love a bit of sunshine, the warmer weather can affect some people with arthritis.

    People with arthritis often say that they can predict the weather based on how their joints feel. Some notice their pain and stiffness flares up in the cold and wet winter months, while others find hot and humid summer weather can make symptoms worse.

    Dr Alastair Dickson, GP and health economist with an interest in rheumatology and arthritis, and trustee of the Primary Care Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Medicine Society, says that some people are more sensitive to the weather than others.

    It is unknown why weather affects arthritis pain, he says. One theory is that people are less active in cold, damp weather and keeping active is known to help relieve arthritis pain.

    An alternative theory is that changes in barometric pressure affect the pain you feel. Temperature sensitivity is a common symptom of fibromyalgia, and extremes in temperature, whether it be hot or cold, can trigger flare-ups.

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    How Does Heat Work

    When I say heat, what I mean is a warm compress, hot water bottle or wheat cushion applied to an area of skin around an injury. You could also get these effects from a hot bath or shower, but this would be a less targeted way of treating your knee.

    Heat works roughly in the opposite way that ice works. It, too, has a number of effects to the body when applied around an injury:

    • Heat causes an effect called vasodilation to the blood vessels around an area which means a widening of the vessels, increasing blood flow to an injured site. You wouldnt want to use heat on a recently sprained ankle
    • Heat doesnt affect the nerves like ice does, but it does increase healthy blood flow to an area, which can speed up healing in some injuries . It also helps to flush away the nasties within the blood that invade an injured area.
    • Heat has an effect on the surrounding muscles and joints whereby it loosens them up by making the soft tissues more elastic. This basically means you get more flexibility in a body part just by heating it up! Try to stretch a muscle in the cold, then try to stretch the same muscle after a hot shower youll find you can stretch much further after the heat treatment.

    FAQs

    What is best for arthritis pain heat or ice? ›

    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. For a chronic pain condition, such as osteoarthritis, heat seems to work best.

    What is the most effective treatment for arthritis? ›

    Treatment
    • NSAIDs . Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can relieve pain and reduce inflammation. ...
    • Counterirritants. Some varieties of creams and ointments contain menthol or capsaicin, the ingredient that makes hot peppers spicy. ...
    • Steroids. ...
    • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
    15 Sept 2021

    What are the six main treatments for arthritis? ›

    Reactive Arthritis: 6 Treatments to Consider
    • Antibiotics.
    • NSAIDs.
    • Steroids.
    • DMARDs.
    • TNF blockers.
    • Physical therapy.
    • Call your doctor.

    What vitamin is good for sore joints? ›

    Vitamin D is important for keeping bones strong and preventing injuries from falls. Research shows that people with low levels of vitamin D may have more joint pain.

    What is the new cure for arthritis? ›

    New Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis - Latest FDA Approvals
    DrugDrug Class
    rituximab (Rituxan)CD20-directed cytolytic antibody
    abatacept (Orencia)selective T cell costimulation modulator
    adalimumab (Humira)tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blocker
    anakinra (Kineret)interleukin-1 receptor antagonist
    12 more rows
    11 May 2022

    What is the safest drug to take for arthritis? ›

    Methotrexate is widely regarded as one of the safest of all arthritis drugs, though it carries some potential downsides. Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and vomiting are its most frequent side effects.

    What is the new drug for osteoarthritis? ›

    A drug called tanezumab reduced pain and improved physical function in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip, according to the results of a large clinical trial published in JAMA.

    What triggers arthritis inflammation? ›

    The most common triggers of an OA flare are overdoing an activity or trauma to the joint. Other triggers can include bone spurs, stress, repetitive motions, cold weather, a change in barometric pressure, an infection or weight gain.

    What is arthritis caused by? ›

    Most forms of arthritis are thought to be caused by a fault in the immune system that causes the body to attack its own tissues in the joints. This may be inherited genetically. Other forms of arthritis can be caused by problems with the immune system or by a metabolic condition, such as gout.

    Does Extra Strength Tylenol help with arthritis pain? ›

    Tylenol may relieve minor aches and pains and reduce fever. It has little anti-inflammatory effect, though, which means it won't do much for pain from inflammatory arthritis.

    What are the 3 vitamins for arthritis? ›

    Several vitamins have been studied for their effects on arthritis, including the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E, and vitamins D and K.

    Can too much vitamin D cause joint pain? ›

    Vitamin D toxicity can cause hypercalcemia and subsequent problems with the bones, including a loss of bone density . Some symptoms include: aching or painful bones.

    What vitamin deficiency causes arthritis? ›

    Reduced vitamin D intake has been linked to increased susceptibility to the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and vitamin D deficiency has been found to be associated with disease activity in patients with RA.

    Does heat make arthritis worse? ›

    If you have arthritis, summer heat and humidity can increase your joint pain and make daily activities a challenge. Many people who have arthritis feel more discomfort as the weather changes throughout the year.

    What causes a flare up of arthritis? ›

    The most common triggers of an OA flare are overdoing an activity or trauma to the joint. Other triggers can include bone spurs, stress, repetitive motions, cold weather, a change in barometric pressure, an infection or weight gain. Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is an inflammatory disease that affects the skin and joints.

    Are ice packs good for arthritis pain? ›

    Painful arthritis inflammation can be treated with a cold compress. This is an inexpensive, effective treatment that can be used many times a day or occasionally, as needed.

    Does heat make inflammation worse? ›

    Heat can make inflammation significantly worse. Ice can aggravate symptoms of tightness and stiffness; it can also just make any pain worse when it's unwanted. Both ice and heat are pointless or worse when unwanted: icing when you're already shivering, or heating when you're already sweating.

    When does arthritis hurt the most? ›

    Pain in one or more of your joints is the classic symptom of this condition. Usually it starts to hurt when you use the joint or right after you wake up. The pain also often gets worse at the end of the day.

    How long do you alternate heat and ice? ›

    The key is to ice for 20 minutes, causing the vessels to narrow, and then heat for 15 minutes, causing the vessels to dilate. This acts as a pumping mechanism to the inflammation, pushing it away from the injured area.

    How do you calm an arthritis flare-up? ›

    To prevent osteoarthritis flare-ups, take care to ensure you don't overwork an arthritic joint. And if you do experience a flare-up, you can help relieve your symptoms by using a warming pad or warm compress, taking over-the-counter pain relievers or just giving the joint some rest.

    Does drinking soda make arthritis worse? ›

    A recent study presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. showed that an increased consumption of sugary carbonated drinks in men with osteoarthritis worsened their arthritis.

    Does arthritis make you tired? ›

    Many people with arthritis say fatigue is one of their biggest challenges. Fatigue can be linked to many types of arthritis and related conditions. It's commonly a symptom of autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, reactive arthritis and lupus.

    Does drinking water help arthritis? ›

    Staying hydrated is vital when you live with arthritis. Hydration is key for flushing toxins out of your body, which can help fight inflammation, and well-hydrated cartilage reduces the rate of friction between bones, meaning you can move more easily.

    Which is better for arthritis Tylenol or ibuprofen? ›

    Ibuprofen is more effective than acetaminophen for treating inflammatory pain conditions. Ibuprofen is FDA-approved to treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, whereas acetaminophen may be used off-label for these conditions. However, acetaminophen may cause less serious side effects than ibuprofen.

    Is Tylenol good for arthritis? ›

    Popular pain-relieving drugs that you can purchase over the counter at any drugstore are Advil and Tylenol. Both can temporarily relieve mild to moderate arthritis pain.

    Should you ice or heat first? ›

    Rule of thumb for most injuries: Ice first, heat later. But avoid using them in tandem except as directed by a health care provider, Jake said. Most injuries cause your body to react with inflammation and swelling. Ice is used to cool down the injured joint or tissue and reduce swelling.

    How many times a day can I use a heating pad? ›

    Generally, heat should be applied 1-3 times a day for 10-15 minutes at a time – however, if heat is added too early in the healing process it can perpetuate the inflammation cycle and be harmful to the body. Ultimately, the decision to use heat or ice is up to you.

    Can you use a heating pad too much? ›

    Yet, leaving a heating pad on for too long can result in injury from burns and can potentially create a scenario of extreme inflammation in the body as the dilated blood vessels bring pro-inflammatory cells to the area warmed.

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