Heat Therapy for Arthritis
Let us talk about Heat Therapy, but before that, let us just get an overview of what arthritis actually is.
Arthritis, in the most general sense, means the joint inflammation, however the term can be used to denote as vast as over 200 conditions that affect the joints and it is related problems. It is basically the swelling and tenderness of joints. The most common signs and symptoms of arthritis include pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, decreased range of motion etc.
Heat therapy for Arthritis:
Most of the doctors suggest heat therapy as the major relief causing treatment as it is known for its quick and long lasting efforts. It is the easiest and most effective way to ease the pain of arthritis. Let us have a detailed view of what heat therapy actually does to the body.
Heal damaged tissues
The warmth created by the heat therapy causes the blood vessels to dilate which in response causes increased flow of oxygen and fluids in the blood. This is what heals the damaged tissues and provides instant relief to the person.
Decrease Joint Stiffness
The joints become stiff due to arthritis which causes the restriction of movement. As the warmth increases, the pliability of the muscles increases, which increases the joint flexibility and reduces joint stiffness.
Stimulate Joint Fluid
The joint fluid is stimulated by the warmth caused by the heating therapy. It increases the joint lubrication and delivery of nutrients to the joint tissue.
How does heat therapy work?
There are particularly two types of heat therapy;
- Dry heat therapy
- Moist heat therapy
Dry heat therapy uses tools like heating pads, dry heating pads or even saunas.
Moist heat therapy or convection heat therapy includes steamed towels, moist heating pads, hot baths etc. This type of heat application is slightly more effective than the dry heat.
How to apply heat therapy?
Since heat is considered the most effective way to cure the pain caused by arthritis, there are numerous ways through which one can cure the pain. The most effective ways for applying heat include:
Electric heating pad
The most common way for apply heat that has been popularized in the last 2-3 years. It is the easiest to use, just plug in, it gets heated, wrap in cloth and apply. It works well for 30-40 minutes on an average. This is the best way to heat back and shoulder as they cover a larger area.
It is easy to use, easy to store and heats up quickly. However, one disadvantage is that it might get burned due to overheating. Heating pad for knee arthritis is considered the best.
Capsaicin creams or gels
These gels contain a chemical that makes the Cayenne pepper hot. The chemical works by initially irritating the sensory nerve endings in the skin. In turn, the body responds by reducing pain signals throughout the nervous system. It is considered best for temporary relief of chronic and muscle pain but in some cases capsaicin irritates sensitive skin. It is the best option to manage arthritic joints.
These are the moist heat pads versatile and reusable and work on being heated in microwave. These are the latest entry into the techniques of heat therapy for arthritis. Being time efficient, it has become a popular trend.
Just plug in to melt paraffin, dip your hands or foot multiple times to coat them with wax. Retain the heat by wrapping into plastic that ensures a long stay. It stays for around 20 minutes and then you can peel off the mask. Make sure you are handling the paraffin with care. It is the best type of heat therapy for hand and feet pain.
There are various benefits of heat therapy, but in certain cases some care needs to be taken. If the area is bruised, swollen or both, then using cold therapy shall be a better option. Heat therapy should also not be applied to areas having open wounds and on people with certain pre conditions like diabetes, dermatitis, vascular diseases, deep vein thrombosis, multiple sclerosis etc.
If proper care is not taken, then there are chances of burns to the exposed area. It is important to consult the doctor if you see any bruises. A better comparison between heat therapy vs cold
therapy should be considered and consulted with your therapist.
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