How does “Heat and Cold therapy” alleviates the excruciating pain of Hand Arthritis?

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Is there anything you can do for your hand arthritis pain when it becomes unbearable?

The answer is yes! You can manage your pain if you want to avoid using high dose painkillers.

Hand arthritis usually comes with excruciating pain along with muscle stiffness which can be alleviated through simultaneous heat and cold therapy which functions as a natural painkiller therapy without providing any side effects.  That’s why many orthopedic experts prescribe simultaneous hot & Cold therapy instead of using regular pain killers to reduce chronic swelling of the hand joint, and ease the stiffness, and pain that usually develop with arthritis.

Doctors find that the right combination of hot and cold therapy can give patients relief from aches, and make it easier to control hand arthritis. However, if the pain persists, one should seek immediate medical supervision.

How does “Hot and cold therapy “work for hand arthritis?

According to the Arthritis Foundation a sufficient amount of heat relaxes the sore muscles of arthritis. Thus, it could be beneficial for hand arthritis too. The basic scientific fact is that heat warms up the arthritis affected joint muscles, and enlarges the blood vessels to improve blood circulation, increase more blood and oxygen flow to the targeted tissue.

Mild heat in the morning can improve the range of motion of the hand affected by arthritis. The renowned physiotherapist of Newtown, Pennsylvania Palmer said that heat therapy can relieve joint pain to a greater extent and relax the muscle stiffness, thereby preparing the hand for further stretching and movement.

Another version of hand therapy is using wax, or paraffin, or taking a hot bath. Here paraffin is heated at defined temperature and then asks the patient to dip their affected hand, wrist, and fingers in it to make a cover coating. Then the therapist wraps their paraffin coated hand with a small thin towel which in turn gives a nice moisture. It is a very unique treatment specifically designed for rheumatoid arthritis patients to eliminate pain and stiffness.

Palmer also suggested that paraffin therapy is good for hand arthritis to eliminate muscle stiffness but it should be applied in the morning when the hand joint is not inflamed.

If you want to avoid paraffin causing mess, then apply warm compresses such as hot water bottles because it functions similar to paraffin bath,

Till now we talked about how heat alleviates muscle stiffness and increases blood circulation at that particular area. Now we’ll explain the consequences of cold therapy for rheumatoid arthritis.

If your hand joints are swollen, it is a good time to apply an ice pack to ease up the swelling and associated pain. The actual benefit of cold therapy is decreasing swelling, inflammation, soreness and also temporary relief from joint pain caused by arthritis.

Therapist Maggiore said that cold therapy is most appropriate to alleviate acute flare up. Cold therapy is very supportive to reduce joint temperature, alleviate pain, and inflammation.

Just like heat therapy, cold therapy comes in several forms

Very basic method is cooling the affected hand joint in a cool-water filled tub. Specifically say use cold water but it shouldn’t be ice-chilled.

If you can’t use a cold water tub, use cooling pads, gel packs or frozen pea packs. Apply them directly on your aching joint to get the first result. You can get widely available cooling ointment and over-the-counter pain relieving spray that effectively reduces inflammation by numbing the connected nerves of affected joints.

The art of using hot and cold therapy?

Hot and cold therapy has its own part of application and benefits. Application is quite logical. Heat shouldn’t be applied to the inflamed joint because it is already irritated, agitated, and hot, and cold compression is not applicable for stiff joints as well.

There is a simple biological rule; Heat relaxes muscles whereas cold minimizes pain and inflammation. Take precaution while using hot and cold therapy to manage hand arthritis pain otherwise you may end up damaging your skin by applying extreme heat or cold.

Before using heat therapy, make sure to fix the temperature that is not uncomfortably high for your skin so that you end up with skin burn and injury. Don’t forget to place a towel or cotton cloth between your skin and the heat source to prevent burn injury. You shouldn’t apply heat for more than 20 minutes at a time. Doctors advise to avoid using hot bags directly onto the skin because it may leave a dark patch.

Avoid using heat therapy on the skin that is injured, after healing of the tissue you can continue the treatment.  

Safety Precaution is also applicable for cold therapy devices too, just like hot bag, use a cotton cloth between your skin and ice pack because it prevents irritation and damage.  You shouldn’t leave the cold application on your skin for more than 20 minutes. If you see your skin develop blisters, numbness, and blotchiness, then stop using ice packs immediately.

When you’re using heat and cold therapy, don’t forget to check your skin as temperature changes may change your skin condition and develop redness, blisters, and rashes.

Overall hot and cold therapy for hand arthritis is well accepted by orthopedic experts more than using pain killers because it comes with minimal side effects on your body

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